Fear Street Part 1: 1994, review of the new horror film from Netflix

Fear Street Part 1: 1994, review of the new horror film from Netflix

Fear Street Part 1

Fear Street Part 1: 1994, loosely based on the novels of the same name by R.L. Stine, is the first chapter in a trilogy of Netflix horror films directed by director and co-writer Leigh Janiak. Before going into the review of the film, it is right to dwell briefly on the figure of the writer Stine. Surely you have heard of him for masterpieces such as the Goosebumps series dedicated to an audience of preteens and adolescents. The Fear Street novels, on the other hand, have always been the mature component of the writer's tales, with darker stories and decidedly gruesome details. This is reflected in Fear Street Part 1: 1994, so much so that it is forbidden to audiences under the age of 14 as it shows teenagers cursing and horribly killed while running away from a large number of deranged killers as in classic horror slasher. The time has come, therefore, to dissect this first film by discovering every peculiarity. We remind you that the review will be spoiler-free, so that you too can enjoy the many twists.

Between teen story and a secular evil

The film is set in 1994, as the title suggests, and stars a group of teenagers in Shadyside, Ohio, who are involved in a ancient evil. The small American town is known for drugs, poverty and so many bloody murders that it is also referred to as Killer Capital USA. Every year, in fact, new killers emerge who have the task of killing their neighbors, before the executioners themselves die in a painful and violent way. Local legend claims that Shadyside was cursed by a witch named Sarah Fier. 300 years after the latter was hanged for her wickedness, the citizens believe that she still manages to possess the people of the country for atrocious purposes and to make them commit unspeakable murders.

Beyond this terrifying aspect, there is also room for some contour sub-textures. One of the girls in the group, Deena (Kiana Madeira), in fact, is trying to forget her ex Sam (Olivia Welch), who has moved to the nearby town of Sunnyvale and has insisted on keeping their relationship a secret. The girl's friends, Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger), are drug dealers trying hard to escape Shadyside.

Initially everything seems quiet, until the boys are attacked by an alleged killer and some of their college friends are killed in the mall. The ominous event prompts the protagonists to turn to Deena's brother, Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), who has studied Shadyside's murderous past. As they try to survive the attacks of numerous assassins, the group of boys dive deeper into the country's past and learn the background to the serious nightmare that has plagued their city for centuries.

Enough cliché , here is Fear Street Part 1: 1994

Although Fear Street Part 1: 1994 was clearly meant to be a homage to the slasher films of the 90s, it seems that it wants to stay in a limbo between following in the footsteps of the most famous of the past and the desire to open the entire trilogy with determination and originality. The first part, in fact, opens with a brutal murder in which we observe, with great surprise, Maya Hawke in a small role similar to that of Drew Barrymore in Scream (and Bella Thorne in Scream: The TV Series). The second part of the film, on the other hand, goes into the development of a mythology of Shadyside and Sarah Fier. The entire film bounces back and forth between horror sequences and slasher content, following precisely the classic trail of 90s films that offered a bivalent approach to the genre.

Staying true to Stine's formula, the mail in game of life or death with a touch of supernatural terror is woven through a high school melodrama, studded with rivalry, jealousy, cliques, lust and dangerous impulses. It is precisely in this context that Deena's search for a reckless romantic revenge against her ex quickly leads her friends into a mystery that puts several possessed murderers on their trail. Despite the references to the 90s, showrunners Phil Graziadei and Leigh Janiak managed to delve deeply into the psychology of the protagonists, making the viewer discover fresh and fascinating characters. These, in fact, do not resume the stereotypes of horror slasher present in many successful films of the past.

There is not a crazy blonde who is constantly looking for fun and there are not even the junkie bungler or the athlete brainless that sacrifices itself in the one rare heroic flicker. On the contrary, we are introduced to characters who refuse to fit into such molds such as the cheerleader (Julia Rehwald) who we discover is a valedictorian and a drug dealer, and her silly and witty best friend (Fred Hechinger) who tries to balancing schoolwork with demanding work to make sure her siblings can be fed.

With such narrative and psychological complexities, Graziadei and Janiak create characters that don't seem familiar or reworked, but authentic and alive . In this way, when a murderer is on his heels, it's hard to imagine who might die or try to predict the moves of the protagonists.

A cast worthy of a horror with all the trimmings

The cast , therefore, it is as young as it is incredible. Kiana Madeira proves to be a sensational protagonist, balancing a tough character with flashes of anguish and a trembling inner tenderness. Olivia Scott Welch is her stage partner who manages to deliver an intoxicating blend of passion and pain that makes her performance one of the best in the entire film. Benjamin Flores offers solid support as a conspiracy theorist obsessed as much by the secrets of the town as by his sister's chat, while Fred Hechinger is the comic streak of the tale who manages to bring good laughs at precise moments and never off topic. Maya Hawke, already observed in Stranger Things, offers her unique style and her great preparation; Julia Rehwald faces a ferocious, fun and a little sexy path with seriousness and detachment from the clichés of the genre.

We're talking about a horror, so it's easy to wonder how scary it is. Fear Street Part 1: 1994 opens in a really brilliant way, outlining the dark, violent and tense tones of the film for its entire duration (about 107 minutes). The spectators of the 90s will be fascinated by the setting that perfectly and with great precision represents their era. The latter will behave like a spider's web that pushes the observer right into the jaws of terror.

There are some goodies worthy of a lover of details like Leigh Janiak: the covers of R.L. Stinas placed in plain sight in a bookcase, the floral fashion of those years and a great use of fixed lines softened by violent strokes of neon blue, red and green. The soundtrack, then, is the icing on the cake because it does not serve to externalize the inner feelings of the protagonists, but to arouse goosebumps in the viewer. Marco Beltrami does a very high level job as he did with the films The Faculty and Scream.

As if all this were not enough, the assassins are the best addition to Fear Street Part 1: 1994. Each of them presents peculiar aspects that make it scary, aggressive and disturbing in an ascending climax that gives justice to Stine's works. The assassins of Shadyside, in fact, differ according to their weapons, years of "activity" and fantastic costumes. Horror fans will notice hints of some famous slasher films including Scream, however Graziadei and Janiak have managed to create some excellent intrigues that provide viewers with an opportunity to take an interest in their stories as well. Who were these people before they were possessed? What were their stories? It might all sound macabre, but it is precisely this aspect that gives even more strength to the narrative.


Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is an unexpectedly pleasant film that totally reworks the genre and it displaces the viewer who would expect to see a classic horror slasher filled with clichés and stereotypes. Leigh Janiak has decided to use Stine's books as a detailed guide to writing her three chapters and giving the novels the right cinematic adaptation. The script is written taking up every little detail and the final result is extraordinary. Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is a film full of characters, secrets, mysteries and terror.

Horror fans can smile at the idea of ​​finally seeing a worthy example of a modern slasher. The only flaw? It is not a standalone film, so it will be necessary to see the other two films in weekly release. The effect ending looks like it was cut by a murderer's cleaver to force the viewer to wait for the second chapter with anxious anticipation and fear.

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