With the release of this horror trilogy (directed by Leigh Janiak) and with the release of Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, Halloween Kills and Scream 5 on the horizon, it’s pretty fair to say slasher horror films are making a comeback. Back in the late 70s and 80s in the wake of the success films like Halloween and Friday the 13th had, slashers were very profitable. In the 90s after Wes Craven’s Scream was a huge success there was another boom of slashers. I’m thinking that with the success of the Fear Street films, there are likely more slashers being developed and made. As well as maybe a few Fear Street films, given the Marvel-esque mid credits scene that plays at the end of Fear Street Part 3: 1666.
I didn’t really know what to expect with these films. I heard about them online and I knew they were based on the R.L. Stine books and of course he wrote the Goosebumps books. I was a fan of the TV show that was made in Canada, I was also a fan of another similar horror related show: Are You Afraid of the Dark. That was also a Canadian/American production. I knew that it was going to be R-Rated which is always great as you can push the boundaries a little more and show a lot more blood and gore. I stayed away from trailers, so I went into each of these films blind, but did notice that there were some Stranger Things connections. Sadie Sink and Maya Hawke star in the show and Leigh Janiak is married to Ross Duffer, one of the Duffer Brothers who created the show. Rather than review each of these films one at a time, I’m going to talk about the films as a whole. I enjoyed these movies a lot. I thought they were a lot of fun and it had that lovely 90s nostalgia around it. And I have a soft spot for 90s horror films and also those that were made in the early 2000s. They were the ones I grew up and I would often watch them on TV, even though I wasn’t a big horror fan & nerd like I am now. I think it was such a bold idea just to make three connected horror films and with the same crew throughout. Each of them had a different kind of style depending on which era it was based in. Leigh Janiak directed all three films with such a large amount of confidence and playfulness. It was able to be fun and it was able to be scary, but most importantly it felt engaging and it kept you invested. The first film set in 1994 has that Wes Craven Scream feel and its opening with Maya Hawke is similar to the opening of Scream with Drew Barrymore. The cast was really cool, and the characters they played were fun and interesting. You really rooted for them and you felt emotionally connected to them. I like realistic horror but stuff to do with the occult and supernatural elements are always fun to. The backstory involving Sarah Fier and all the other murderers was well thought out and was creepy. There was a strong and engaging backstory with these films and as the story takes us further and further into the past, it reveals things slowly and has some effective and strong reveals. I think that approach was quite ambitious, but it paid off. Of course, there are always going to be people, me included, that are always going to make comparisons to the other horror films. Leigh Janiak does tribute movies of the past but manages to direct it in her own slick and visual way. I wouldn’t say I have a favourite as they are all very good. Having said that, I would say the second film, Fear Street Part 2: 1978 is the best of them as it has a lot of great kills and pushes some taboos. As a few young kids do meet some grisly fates. The cast particularly in the second one had some strong performers, like Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd and Ryan Simpkins. And it was fun seeing Gillian Jacobs in it as well and she felt right at home in a film like this.
Fear Street shows there is still a bit of juice in the slasher genre and there is room to play and have fun, even if it treads on some familiar waters. Fear Street: 1994 is a very enjoyable and creepy film with a good cast, nasty well done kills and a mystery that keeps you hooked. Leigh Janiak creates a haunting atmosphere with this film, as well as the rest, that keeps you on edge. It is inspired by Scream but I enjoy the supernatural edge it has. I think at times the needle drops were a little on the nose just to remind everyone this film was set in the 90s. Some of the music did feel random and sometimes it was a bit too much. But it was still fun in a nostalgic kind of way. Fear Street: 1978 was a pretty bad ass film with a lot of creepy moments and surprises. Sadie Sink is awesome in the main role and it was also great seeing Gillian Jacobs in the film too. I loved the fact it was filmed in the same place they filmed Friday the 13th Part 6. It basically was Friday the 13th but with a supernatural edge, much like the first one was Scream but with a supernatural edge to it. Fear Street: 1666 was a great conclusion to the Fear Street trilogy with some exciting and thrilling scenes and a nice surprising twist that catches you off guard. I didn’t see it coming. Everything comes full circle in the final film. The first half set in 1666 is pretty fun and the set design and costumes are well detailed and of the period. It very much reminded me of The VVitch directed by Robert Eggers, which I’m sure was an inspiration. It had a proper 90s horror style which I really like and I got all nostalgic watching. Definitely had that vibe you found in movies like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend and Valentine. This trilogy really is a huge ball of horror fun and I would love to see more movies like this. Slashers really are making a comeback.