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Critics Review
Fear Street - Part One 1994 review: 90s nostalgia ‘slasher’ leaves you intrigued enough for Part Two

R L Stine's iconic series of horror novels, Fear Street, debuts on Netflix as a weekly trilogy of film series releasing on the 2nd, 9th, and 16th of July. 

3.0
Ryan Gomez
Jul 04, 2021
 
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What’s it about:

The film is the first part of a weekly trilogy series, with the next film scheduled to release on July 9 on Netflix. It is based on a series of young-adult horror novels titled Fear Street by R L Stine between 1989 to 1995. The trilogy is an amalgamation of all the books without focusing on a particular story but rather a collection of references and Easter eggs from the books scattered throughout the films. The first film set in 1994 opens with a montage explaining the history of towns, Shadyside and Sunnyvale. Shadyside is depicted as a less affluent town with issues like drug abuse and a very high crime rate with a spate of murder sprees every few years. Sunnyvale on the other hand is a peaceful and flourishing town with booming real estate. The story focuses on how the lives of a group of teenagers from Shadyside are turned upside down after an evil begins hunting them down.

What’s hot:

Director Leigh Janiak and the writers have done an excellent job in recreating the 90s aesthetics for the film. They have also taken several cues from the Stranger Things formula of 80s nostalgia, whilst featuring more blood and gore than the hugely popular Netflix original TV series. The use of rock music from the 90s for its soundtrack like Iron Maiden’s Fear of the Dark and Radiohead’s Creep, added to the overall 90s nostalgia vibe to go along with the visuals. The narrative is evenly paced with just the right amount of thrills, spills, and screams. The film also manages to add in the high-school teen drama aspect of the story without affecting the overall pacing. The lore of the world inhabited by the protagonists appears to have plenty to offer with hints about the history of Shadyside. The characters are fleshed out excellently with some brilliant character development, while some were fleshed out quite literally. The film also manages to introduce a few interesting plot points which keep the concept fresh, despite the overwhelming number of slasher films released over the years

What’s not:

Despite the fact that the overall film manages to keep the right balance of nostalgia and fresh ideas, it is however riddled with the same issues as almost every other film in this genre - glaring plot holes and unintelligible characters. While the characters are shown to be intelligent and resourceful at certain points in the story, they are portrayed as extremely dimwitted in others. The most obvious flaw in the movie is that the main protagonist, Deena Johnson, is the least likeable character in the entire story. An argument could also be made that the gang is in trouble in the first place because of her irrationality and jealousy. If the audience is unable to root for the main character, the narrative faces an uphill task to keep the audience invested in the story.

Verdict:

Despite its flaws, including how poorly the lead has been written, the interesting supporting characters and the mysterious antagonist does give the film the lift it needs. The film ends with just the right amount of intrigue for the audience to wait for Part Two on July 9.

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