Break time from the major franchises this year but I’ll be back and looking at Halloween in a few days. In the mean time, I just can’t stop doing connected films. Fear Street was originally R. L. Stine’s young adult counterpart to the Goosebumps series of books that were aimed more at the pre-teen audiences. This trilogy isn’t based on any of the books from that particular series but instead tells its own story spanning 3 different time periods. As the title might suggest to you, the first part starts off in 1994 and, if you missed that detail, the movie will slap you across the face with early 90’s songs in rapid fire succession for the first 20 minutes to drive it home.
The trilogy takes place in the town of Shadyside, a place cursed with frequent and sudden murders. Their neighboring town, Sunnyvale, has had no violent crime in decades and is much more affluent. And white. The hero of our story is Deena, a sadsack that just broke up with her girlfriend, Sam, because she moved to Sunnyvale and fuck Sunnyvale. Oh and also because Sam refuses to be out about the relationship? Which does nothing to endear me to Deena because 1) Sam moved because her parents got divorced. Dick move blaming her for what was already a fucked up time. 2) It’s 1994 and you’re both teens. If she isn’t ready to come out, fuck you for trying to force her. Anyway, Sam gets cursed by the local witch’s ghost and now has generic Spirit Halloween versions of Ghostface from Scream and Baghead Jason from Friday the 13th Part 2 trying to kill her. Also some girl with a straight razor.
The film is interesting and each part seems to draw on very specific horror influences for the setting and tone. This part is very clearly influenced by Scream. The entire opening of this movie is a huge homage to the opening of that movie with the Skullface killer moving and acting much like Ghostface. The Jason-like killer we see will show up in Part 2 of this series, which is set at a camp by a lake for maximum Friday the 13th vibes. Deena’s little brother, Josh, provides the meta knowledge of what’s going on and how this works for yet more Scream stuff. The film walks a thin line between homage and being derivative but I think it does a good enough job differentiating itself and merely incorporating the references into its overarching plot.
For a film that is aimed toward a teen audience, Fear Street doesn’t skimp on the blood and guts. There’s more onscreen murder and gruesome special effects here than most of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films and those have the words “chainsaw massacre” in the title. I also appreciate that the teens in this feel natural and fun. I love that they all have this pervasive sense of nihilism that growing up in a literally cursed town will give you but each of them deals with it in their own way. Deena lashes out and wallows in misery, her friend Kate overachieves and sells drugs so she can try to escape, Josh buries himself in the horror of it to try to understand why. It makes the characters interesting and you root for them to solve the curse.
I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I was going to. I’ll look at part 2 tomorrow and hopefully the Friday the 13th stuff is handled like the Scream stuff in this film. Either way, I am excited to see where the story of the Shadyside witch goes.
Score: 4 out of 5