‘Fear Street Part One: 1994’ Review: “A Grand Opening”
As a kid, I was a huge R.L. Stine fan. I grew up reading Goosebumps like most millennials. However, one series that I did not read at the time was Fear Street. I didn’t know what to expect with this adaptation, but my expectations were just that this was for teens and young adults. There are three parts to this story that will be spread out over three weeks, and the opening was simply brilliant.
There are a few murder capitols in America. Just to name a few, we have Detroit, Chicago, and New Orleans. In Fear Street, it’s Shadyside. What state Shadyside is located in exactly, we do not know. What we do know is that it exists and its neighboring town is Sunnyvale. Sunnyvale is a town full of rich kids that look down on Shadyside. This is our setting for Part One: 1994.
The film opens at Shadyside Mall, during the closing hours. Heather Watkins (Maya Hawke) is closing the bookstore she works at, and her friend Ryan Torres (Kevin Alves) is her ride home. Somebody is creeping into her store and tries to kill her. The killer – referred to as Skull-Face – ends up murdering seven people, Watkins included, and gets murdered by a cop. To most people, it’s just another massacre in Shadyside, like the other massacres that have happened in that town. To Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), it’s another person that’s been possessed by Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel).
Josh goes to Shadyside High School with his sister Deena (Kiana Madeira). He’s a nerd that loves looking into the crime in Shadyside. She’s a band geek along with her friends Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger). They go to a vigil for the massacre at the rival school in Sunnyvale, and Deena sees her ex Samantha (Olivia Scott Welch) with her new boyfriend Peter (Jeremy Ford). An incident occurs afterward where Peter and Sam wreck in the woods. Sam accidentally disturbs Sarah’s grave and all hell breaks loose.
This isn’t a slasher film by any means, it’s a collection of horror styles. Those horror styles come in waves, and they mesh together perfectly. Phil Graziadei and director Leigh Janiak put together a screenplay that sets up the trilogy perfectly. Going backward instead of forward sounded ridiculous to me at first, but now I totally understand why they decided to go that route.
My only issue is that the film doesn’t exactly become scary or feel like the stakes are high until the end. The opening makes you feel like that will be the case the entire film, but it’s not. Which kind of weighs down the film just a tad considering it has “Fear Street” in its title. You don’t feel the fear truly until the third act. Also, only having Hawke at the beginning is kind of a waste.
Other than that, this film is pretty damn good. This film has been catching a lot of unnecessary slander, perhaps people just expected way too much from it. However, I’m not saying lower your expectations. I’m saying realize who the book’s intended crowd is before you watch the film. It’s like watching the Goosebumps TV show as an adult. It’s not terrifying, but it’s enjoyable. I’m excited for 1978 and to see how much lore we get out of the story. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Fear Street Part One: 1994 is now streaming on Netflix.