Fear Street: Part One – 1994 (2021) Review
“Three movies. Three weeks. One killer story.”
Synopsis: A circle of teenage friends accidentally encounter the ancient evil responsible for a series of brutal murders that have plagued their town for over 300 years. Welcome to Shadyside.
Fear Street: Part One – 1994 has been compared to a mashup between Scream and Stranger Things, and it does justice to neither of those references. Even considering whatever pass you might give the movie because it’s based on YA books, there is really not much gold to glean from this empty creekbed.
As I’ve mentioned before, Ludwig and I tend to take notes during horror flicks to ensure we capture everything we want to touch on later in our reviews. My first note for Fear Street was “This is trying pretty hard.” And I didn’t mean that as a compliment. Other early notes included “music is too obv and over the top” and “this is really dumb.”
Early on, Fear Street seems like it could be going in a few different directions. A Scream-esque slasher takes down a mall after hours. Rival towns Shadyside and Sunnyvale seem poised to out-do Springfield/Shelbyville hate (or Pawnee/Eagleton hate, if you prefer). There’s a love triangle. None of the potential storylines are particularly interesting or noteworthy, but the movie then mostly ignores all the setup in favor of a bizarre “we have a witch curse on our heads” storyline that honestly pretty challenging to rally behind.
Normally, I can get behind a movie with a shaky story if there’s enough else going on, but there isn’t. All the actors are decent (especially considering what they had to work with) and Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) in particular had a few adorable moments, but the rest… It’s all trying too hard at best. Almost all of the movie takes place at night, and the cinematographer seemed to be going for “dark and gritty” which ends up meaning half the shots are difficult to see. There’s a lot of good music involved, but most of it is anachronistic and only plays for about 10 seconds to underscore a [very unsubtle] point. (Side note: how much budget did Netflix have to spend on this music, or did they get it for cheap because they only used the equivalent of a preview for each song?)
I kept trying to grab onto something to make the movie worthwhile, but I couldn’t find it. I love R.L. Stine as much as the next ’90s kid, but you’ll want to find a better homage to his work.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: C-