Fear Street: Part One - 1994

11/16/2021 06:44

Film: Fear Street: Part One - 1994

Year: 2021

Director: Leigh Janiak

Writer: Phil Graziadei and Leigh Janiak

Starring: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch and Benjamin Flores Jr.



This was a movie that I was interested in checking out due to the buzz from the horror communities that I’m a part of. I’ll be honest, I was into the Goosebumps books, but never got into Fear Street. By the time it came out, I was already reading more adult novels so I missed them. I was a fan of R.L. Stine regardless. The synopsis here is 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.

For this movie, we start off at the mall. Heather (Maya Hawke) is selling a book to a customer who is a bit rude. They are then shutting down for the night. She gets spooked and asks Ryan Torres (David W. Thompson) for a ride home. He works in a different store and a bit weird. He agrees to help her though. The problem though is that she is attacked by a killer wearing a skull mask. She succumbs and it turns out to be someone she knows under the mask. They are then shot by the sheriff, Nick Goode (Ashley Zukerman).

We then shift to meet our main characters. Deena (Kiana Madeira) is up before her alarm. She is mad at her ex of Sam. There is a bunch of their stuff in a shoebox and she is trying to come up with a note to make sure they know how she feels. From here, she makes sure that her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) is up and ready for school. It is there that we meet her friends of Kate (Julia Rehwald), who is a cheerleader, and Simon (Fred Hechinger). Something of note here, Kate used to sell drugs, but got out of it when Simon’s brother overdosed. She is getting back into the game with Simon’s help. She has a good reason in wanting to get out of Shadyside. It should also be pointed out, Deena was in the marching band and then quit. Kate refuses to give the box of stuff to Sam, so she’s going to have come to the game to give it to them.

Deena sees Sam at a candlelight vigil before it. To my surprise, Sam is Samantha Fraser (Olivia Scott Welch). The two fight, with Deena being jealous that she now has a boyfriend. A much bigger fight breaks out, ending everything and forcing both sides to go home. Sam’s boyfriend of Peter (Jeremy Ford) follows the bus in his car. With him are a friend and Sam. The people on the bus fight back and it causes a car accident. Deena gets the bus to stop so she can check on Sam. Sam bleeds on the ground and gets a vision.

It should be pointed out here that Shadyside has a history. A witch by the name of Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel) was executed here. Since then, periodically spree killers will pop up giving this place the nickname of Killer Capital USA. Deena and her friends start to see someone wearing the same outfit the killer in the beginning was when they killed at the mall. This isn’t the only supposedly dead killer making an appearance. These teens will need to fight for survival and get to the bottom of this before it is too late.

That is where I’ll leave my recap here. I want to start saying that this is an interesting film. It feels like it is directed at teens while also giving a bit of the blood and gore for more seasoned horror fans to enjoy. I even like this idea of a curse that involves a witch as well. There are some good things with this, enough to make me watch the next two for sure.

What I will say though is that I didn’t like everything. For one, since we’ve gotten things like Stranger Things, they go too heavy with the nostalgia. I like many of the songs they played as they’re of the era. The problem is that they just keep hitting you in the face with it. There are a lot references as well that feel a bit too heavy handed. I don’t completely hate this, but it would work better to tone it down.

Something else that doesn’t fully work is that I don’t think I’m the target audience. I’m not going to hold this against the film, but the writing feels directed toward teens a bit more than I’d like. I don’t mind us having a lesbian couple at the heart of this, especially since we are trying to normalize this so it isn’t as a big a deal. The movie tries to shock you with it though by calling her Sam and when we see her kissing Peter, you think it is him we are focusing on. There are some other things that happen as well that I don’t buy. The way characters talk is a bit childish, it doesn’t actually feel like there wasn’t enough for two teams at a football game and there weren’t enough people there in the stands either, especially for the rivalry we are building up. It just takes realism away for me.

That is enough for the story so I’ll take this to the acting. It is interesting to have Hawke here in the beginning, since we know her from Stranger Things. It feels like they’re going for a Psycho or Scream with her being a bigger name. This isn’t a problem aside from me liking her as an actress and wanting more. What I did have an issue with was Madeira. She complains so much here and I didn’t care for her character. This is problematic as our lead. I understand she is supposed to angst teen that is irate with her ex, but I’m not seeming much of a redeeming quality for her. Flores, Rehwald, Hechinger and Welch were all fine. I also thought all of the killers were cool since we are getting such different eras/types of movies with them. The cast was fine overall.

The last things I’ll go into are the effects, cinematography and soundtrack. For the former, I believe we’re getting a blend of CGI and practical. To be honest, I didn’t have problems here. This movie does become a bit of a slow-burn where we don’t get kills for a stretch. It doesn’t ruin the movie, because of how they end things. The cinematography is solid as well for framing things certain ways, especially when dealing with CGI. I do like the soundtrack as there are songs I’m a big fan of here, but it does get a bit heavy-handed as well.

So then in conclusion here, I did enjoy this movie. I like what they’re introducing here for the next two movies with the curse of the witch and the history of killers. This movie though isn’t necessarily directed as me though with how it is set up and written. I’m not a fan of our lead here, but the rest of the cast is fine. The effects were good along with the cinematography. The soundtrack and the nostalgia they’re forcing in this movie is a bit too much at times as well. For me, I’d say this is above average.


My Rating: 7 out of 10