Spoilers will stay in the present.
Normally, I’d say each movie deserves to be considered independently except in this case each movie literally ends trailing the start of the next one. Each movie is a mixed bag of several things. The characters themselves also seem to be developed only up to a point. I do see a certain pull to keep watching, but I also felt each movie reaches a point in which its premise or gimmick runs into the ground. You want to see how everything fits together, so odds are you’ll keep watching but there’s a ongoing temptation to just skip forward to the next film.
Fear Street: Part One – 1994 (2021), Fear Street: Part Two: 1978 and Fear Street: Part Three – 1666 (2021) were all directed by Leigh Janiak who also wrote the screenplays along with Phil Graziadei, Zak Olkewicz and Kate Trefry, based on the Fear Street book series by R. L. Stine. Now, you might think it’s unfair that I only dedicate one review to all three films but honestly, I don’t see each film as a standalone. You’re basically along for the whole ride, unless you quit halfway through the first film. By now, you can probably guess this trilogy doesn’t hit high marks for me. To be clear, it’s not the fact that it continues – although that doesn’t help its case.
Horror takes a backseat to teenage angst, drama and even romance. 1994 kinda gets away with it better when Deena (Kiana Madeira) and Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) get reacquainted. Now, I am willing to give teenagers some leeway but they just saw someone else die in front of them. Granted, he was an asshole but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be scarred for weeks. Yes, I was invested in their relationship but I think at least mentally I’d expect a single teen to be shocked for more than a few minutes. It’s obviously very teenage-driven. With a few exceptions, adults are background characters or part of the crowd.
Kiana Madeira’s Deena is the breakout performance having a big role in both the first and third instalments but I also though Sadie Sink’s Ziggy was memorable in the second part. Benjamin Flores’ Josh plays a rather awkward teenager pretty well, although he doesn’t ever look scared for his life. I would say they are the most engaging characters throughout. That is why 1666 is really the actual payoff in character development, highlighting the persecution that both Sarah Fier (Kiana Madeira) and Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch) endure to the point of murder. Their love is turned into witchcraft by a jealous suitor.
It does a semi-decent job setting up the decades. AOL gets a shoutout and I did enjoy seeing the old-style keyboard on Josh’s PC. They don’t overdue the cars like in other movies where every teenager gets a pimped-up muscle car they could never afford. As for the music, it has that same symptom than most movies located in a particular decade have where they cram up way too much hit songs in a single scene. At least they didn’t go overboard with hairstyles or over-saturated colours which I appreciate. 1666 saves what should be the best for last, although every movie at some point feels like the budget is starting to run out.
Recommended with reservations. I would say overall, 1994 sets the tone and it’s an ok but not great movie. Once established the premise, and when new characters start to appear out of the blue, it seems to lose focus. 1978 becomes rather dull once we go full axe-wielding with characters just running all over the place for so long that I was tempted to just skip ahead. 1666 is perhaps the most ambitious of the three, going for back-in-time thriller and hopefully delivering the payoff you’ve been expecting, which it does at the expense of a tone shift at the end. Honestly, it’s overdrawn and I think one movie, or two, max, would have been more solid. Unfortunately the more it delves into its mystery the more it reveals itself to be teenage drama with some random horror elements. I watched it once, but I knew it was my only watch even while doing it.
That will do for now.