There are many things you could say about movies and media from the 90s, but one thing that can’t be denied is that the teen slasher went through something of a golden age. There are too many to list but suffice to say that if 90s teen horror is your jam, then Fear Street Part One: 1994 was made specifically for you. If you happen to like fun movies, then it was also made for you.
The story begins in Shadyside, the run down, lower-middle-class neighbour of the more upscale Sunnyvale. The town is known as the murder capital of the USA, and at the big football game between the two rival high schools, the players and crowd are coming together to hold yet another candlelight vigil for a young woman murdered at the mall.
Deena (Kiana Madeira), a Shadysider, is trying to avoid her ex, Sam (Olivia Welch), who recently transferred to Sunnyvale, resulting in their breakup. Of course, they run into one another, and of course, tensions flare. It doesn’t take long before Sam is in the front seat of a Sunnyvale bully’s car, harassing the Shadyside kids on their bus ride home. One thing leads to another, the car crashes, and Sam ends up injured.
It doesn’t take long for things to escalate from there. People start dying, and it doesn’t take long to figure out that Deena and Sam are at the centre of what’s going on.
To say much more would spoil the fun of watching these kids explore the mystery behind the killings, how they ended up wrapped up in them, and how they’re tied to the town’s grim past. This is, after all, the first film in a trilogy, each one exploring a different era in Shadyside’s history.
Being set in 1994, this film takes its cues from some of the greatest hits of 90s slashers, most notably Scream and It. From the former, it takes structural elements. From the latter, it takes elements of the setting and town history, including centuries of documented supernatural happens that no one outside of a few nerds on the fringes of the (very early) internet.
Director Leigh Janiak clearly knows the source material and era as well. The details and soundtrack are exquisite. She also doesn’t shy away from blood, as the film has some fun and creative kills (including one in particular in a supermarket). That’s right, folks, this is a full-blown R-rated homage, with the violence to match.
Ultimately where these films live or die –pun intended– is with their cast, and this film’s cast is great. Kiana Madeira and Olivia Welch are excellent together as Deena and Sam. They get most of the heavy lifting in the story, and they are each up to the task, and their chemistry together is obvious from the get-go. It’s smart to have them at odds in the early scenes; repairing their relationship brings additional stakes to the plot.
The supporting cast is similarly fun, with the funny one (Simon, played by Fred Hechinger), the popular girl with a dark side (Kate, played by Julia Rehwald) and the shy, nerdy kid who knows all the backstory (Josh, played by Benjamin Flores Jr). Sure, they’re all archetypes, but that’s exactly what you need in a film like this, and they are each super fun in their own ways.
All in all, Fear Street Part One: 1994 has a bit of a mouthful for a title, but it’s an excellent way to spend your time this Friday. It’s a pitch-perfect homage to 1990s slasher films/. Well written and acted, with a bangin’ soundtrack (seriously, there are like 100 needle drops in this thing, in a good way), a fun plot, and some modern queer representation to boot. In case it isn’t clear, I really liked this movie, and I am excited to see where the story goes in parts two and three.
Fear Street Part One: 1994 will premiere on Netflix on Friday, July 2nd. Part Two: 1978 and Part Three: 1666 will follow on July 9th and 15th respectively.
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