RL Stine’s Fear Street

Netflix has tried a somewhat innovative and unique experiment with their film adaptations of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books, filming an entire interconnected trilogy and then releasing them week by week like a running serial of feature length films. The effect is genius both in terms of marketing and the stories themselves and the only thing that would have made it better is if we got to see them week by week on the big screen, like a triple dip multiplex experience. The films are wonderful, three different slasher flicks set respectively in 1994, 1978 and 1666 with a neat double-back to the 90’s again as the last film wraps up the multigenerational, complicated tale of an evil curse placed on the hard-luck town of Shadyside, OH. As a group of teens in 94 scramble to figure out what’s causing some townspeople to go on murderous rampages, the second film takes us back to summer camp 78’ as the generation before them experiences the same killers who seem to be controlled by some kind of powerful force, and the third goes even farther back to the pilgrim settlers that first came to the region as we finally get to the root of what’s causing these century long killings spurred on by what seems like an evil witch, until we learn the real reason which is far more scary and sad. 94 presents to us a stunning opening sequence set inside an appropriately retro shopping centre complete with neon decorations and a masked killer inspired by Ghostface, while 78 offers a nice riff on stuff like Friday The 13th and Sleepaway Camp and 66 goes for a devilish spin on Salem-esque cultish witchiness. Despite all these stylistic influences and homages and an appropriately nostalgic soundtrack lineup full of crowd pleasing anthems of their day, this trilogy strives to be its own thing and not sink too deep into the waters of retro fan service without having an original voice of its own. The characters here are all terrifically developed and wonderfully acted by a massive cast full of familiar faces and relative newcomers alike and the whole thing is as fun as a gong show Halloween house party, as insanely gory (some of the kills are downright shocking) as we like our slashers to get, as down to earth as our favourite social commentary horrors and as deeply tragic and heartbreaking as horror should often be. Great stuff all round.

Nate Hill

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