Fear Street: 1666

Fear Street: 1666 ★★★★

Josh: You smell like an androgynous baby.

Following a barnstorming opening chapter and a lukewarm but still engaging sequel, the final instalment in Leigh Janiak’s Fear Street trilogy has arrived. Taking us all the way back to 1666 in its first half and showing us the original of Sarah Fier’s curse and its roots in gaslighting and social demonisation, demonstrating equal wilfulness to show explicitly gruesome imagery alongside more deeply insidious ideas about the Devil and community collusion to destroy anybody perceived as ‘other’, Fear Street 1666 comes out the blocks boldly. With neatly executed witch trial cinema tropes, solid production design, and a genuine mean streak that shows this isn’t just a teeny horror-lite offering, that first hour is probably the best hour of the whole trilogy.

As for the second half, set in 1994 and charged with tying up three generations’ tales, a handful of pressing mysteries, and the characters’ present battle with resident evil, all underpinned by a sociopolitical commentary on police corruption and the rotting grotesquerie of xenophobia just for good measure, things get a little more messy. Plot threads dutifully unspool, revealing grander designs as revelations come thick and fast and the stakes get increasingly more desperate, but I’d be lying if I said that what this really could’ve benefitted from was the 1666 chapter and the final 1994 chapter being two separate films. The Fear Street Quadrilogy has a less marketable ring to it however, and a month long streaming event probably would’ve struggled to hold viewers’ interest as a month in Netflix time is about a year in the normal world - still, I’d have been all in for four films honestly.

Even with the overstuffedness of the second half of Fear Street 1666 though, the series’ overall ambition and the fact it has all been pulled together with as much style and class as Janiak has galvanised in the material is a commendable feat. In an age of cheap but trendable low-concept horror fodder that plays on low hanging fruits’ enduring appeal to mass audiences, this has been a breath of fresh air. From Scream to I Know What You Did Last Summer to Halloween to Friday the 13th to Camp Sleepaway to The Witch to The Blood on Satan’s Claw to The Witchfinder General, Leigh Janiak’s series - with its fantastic young cast, banging soundtracks, eye-catching visual style, and compelling multi-layered narrative - pays homage to horrors past and horror’s past to create something that feels distinctly of the present moment. The fact this trilogy will act as a gateway drug for many young horror fans to find the harder stuff for themselves warms my black, cold heart, and the skill with which this project has been assembled as a trilogy (rather than as three separate parts) is hugely commendable.

Stick around for the mid-credits by the way… I don’t think we’re done with Shadyside just yet!

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