Time to end this trilogy with a quick trip back into the past to find out exactly what happened with Sarah Fier all those years ago. This installment is actually 2 movies in 1 as we get the whole 1666 story played out and then get part 2 of the 1994 story once Deena gets all the information. With two very solid entries in this trilogy, I was really hoping that it would stick the landing and, even with two entirely separate timelines, it delivers a fun and satisfying ending to the story.
When Deena managed to reunite Sarah’s hand with the rest of her body at the end of the last movie, she gained a full vision of what happened in 1666. Sarah is played by Deena’s actress for most of it but there’s no time-travel, she just sees everyone in the village as someone we’ve already seen. We get everyone from parts 1 and 2 back as members of Union, the precursor settlement that would break into Shadyside and Sunnyvale. Deena and Sarah have a lot in common here as they are both outsiders and both lesbians but Sarah has a lot more to lose if that secret were to get out. Unfortunately, and obviously, it does. That might not have been too bad if the pastor didn’t go crazy and kill a dozen kids. Then the cry of witchcraft goes up and who better to point a finger at than the local “deviant” lovers?
While the first two films in the trilogy pay homage to Scream and Friday the 13th respectively, this one doesn’t really have a specific horror film that it is like. Instead, it draws more heavily on things like The Crucible and America’s own shitty history of being awful to women. The shift in timeline again brings a shift in how things are shot and, while we don’t get all the latest jams of 1666, the score is great at setting a creepy, old-timey tone. Being set before the actual curse set in on Shadyside, indeed before there even was a Shadyside, the characters are much less nihilistic and we get to see the characters being joyful and free with a bunch of callbacks to things from previous films. For instance, the actress that played Kate is now Lizzie but remains a drug dealer of sorts, offering fermented berries in a reference to the “blueberries” she was selling in part 1.
Much like part 2, there is a much greater focus on characters and relationships in this. Sarah’s relationship is much more enjoyable than Deena’s and therefor much more heartbreaking to see destroyed. Deena was mostly a toxic asshole in part 1 but Sarah is caring and has a loving relationship with her version of Sam, played by the same person but named Hannah. The revelations of what actually happened all those years ago also makes the previous movie’s scenes get a whole new meaning to them and make the trilogy truly hang together as a single story rather than disparate parts of a whole. I’m being vague and non-spoilery here because this is a series of movies that I do fully recommend you check out.
It’s hard to say if this one is better than the last movie or not as a standalone because it relies so heavily on being part of the trilogy but it very emotionally satisfying and I loved seeing the story come full circle. I kind of hope that writer/director Leigh Janiak ends up doing more with the series with how good these were.
Score: 5 out of 5 (as a trilogy)