As with most trilogies, the wrap up can be difficult. In this case, a great many story threads have to be wrapped up from two different time frames, and the film does so by diving into the past and the origin of the curse that haunts Shadyside.
The result is that Part Three: 1666 has the most responsibility of the three films, and strains a little bit under that weight.
Note: This review contains minor spoilers for Fear Street Part One: 1994 and Fear Street Part Two: 1978, both of which you should definitely watch before you watch this. It will also contain what might be considered minor spoilers for this film, so if you want to go in blind, let it be known that while I think this is the weakest of the three films, I still liked it and think you will too.
The film beings right where Part Two: 1978 left off: In 1994, Deena (Kiana Madeira) and Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) managed to reunite the severed hand of Sarah Fiers (the witch cursing Shadyside for 350 years) with her bones, but instead of ending the curse Deena is sent back in time to 1666 where she is cast in the role of Sarah Fiers herself.
We learn the sordid history of Shadyside and Sunnyvale and how the curse came to be through this flashback. But, of course, not all is as it seems. This extended sequence casts almost everyone from the prior two films in new roles as the ancestors of the characters they played in 1978 and 1994, to mixed effect. While the period details once again remain excellent, and the tone an excellent homage to the period folk horror films it draws inspiration from, I found this section to be the least effective, perhaps because I found it the most predictable.
The parallels do work though, with Madiera and Olivia Scott Welch playing similarly star crossed lovers this time around as they do in 1994. The film also ties the persecution of lesbians to witch trials, a thing that definitely happened in our actual history that we don’t talk about enough, and that is a welcome addition to the genre.
Note: seriously, there are some minor spoilers in the next few paragraphs. Please don’t say I didn’t warn you.
At the same time, the mysteries in 1994 need to be resolved, and here’s where things get a little tricky. This film takes place in two time frames, serving as both a standalone story in 1666 and a direct follow up to 1994. While I didn’t connect with the 1666 part of the story as I hoped I might, the parts that takes place in 1994 are great and provide a satisfying resolution to the entire trilogy.
I don’t know how to resolve this, but the film is told in two distinct halves. I understand this choice because of how the films are being marketed, but I can’t help but wonder if playing out the two timelines concurrently might have been a little more resonant and made the big reveals a little more dramatic.
Ok, spoilers over.
Still, that’s not to say the film is bad, not by any stretch. It’s still a fun homage to horror films, and it’s still a satisfying end to the story. It’s still delightfully gory, and some of the action pieces at the end are incredibly clever. The film makes full use of its settings and its cast, and it’s clear that director Leigh Janiak loves horror movies. Last, and most importantly, there’s a love story at the centre of it all that you can totally root for, and ties into the themes of this film maybe better than the previous two.
Overall, the Fear Street Trilogy is an enormous success and one that all the filmmakers should be proud of. It’s also one I look forward to re-watching all at once in a marathon and one with plenty of room to explore the various other settings (and genres) shown and hinted at throughout. In short: I very much enjoyed it, and I hope we get to see more.
Fear Street Part Three: 1666 debuts on Netflix today, July 16th, 2021.
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