What’s better than making a decision about the next film on the Collab? Making the next 3 decisions all at once. Much as a I enjoy a carefully thought-out decision about our next viewing experience, I’m happy to say we’ve already checked off that box for several weeks. Our attention will be turned entirely to the Fear Street trilogy on Netflix…unless the dark forces within prove too much. Or our Wi-fi signal is interrupted. Truly a chilling thought.
Fear Street Part One: 1994
In a town plagued by grisly murders for centuries, a group of teens must confront a witch who is out for blood.
There must be something in the water in Shadyside, a small town where the murder rate is staggeringly high. Could the rumors about a long-dead witch causing all of the mayhem be true…or is Shadyside really just a bad place to live that brings out the worst in people?
After the latest murder of a teenage bookstore employee by a close friend, the residents of Shadyside and the idyllic neighboring town of Sunnyvale are in mourning but not complete shock. Residents of both towns seem to spend a large part of their time waiting around for the next murder.
In the midst of this tragedy, depressed teen Deena is experiencing her own personal loss after breaking up with her girlfriend Sam. As Deena is the one who did the breaking up when Sam moved to Sunnyvale, Sam is indignant that her ex has the nerve to be jealous. It does seem problematic that Sam is now dating a football player as a way to mask her LGBTQ identity and forget all about Deena.
When tensions arise during a community vigil for the recently murdered teen, things escalate between Shadyside and Sunnyvale high schools pretty quickly. Sam’s boyfriend proves to be a poor decision maker, tailing the bus that carries Deena and her friends. Deena really raises the stakes on that front when she and one of her bffs, Kate, throw a bucket of ice at the car, causing it to careen off-road into the woods. Sam is injured in the accident but ultimately okay…though her blood manages to draw the attention of a supernatural being.
Shortly after, Deena and her brother experience a creepy encounter that she initially believes to be Sam’s boyfriend playing a prank. Deena’s brother Josh, on the other hand, is something of an expert on the local lore of Sarah Fier, the witch executed in 1666 who is supposedly responsible for the statistically improbable number of grisly murders in Shadyside. It turns out that Josh may be onto something, especially when Peter is soon ruled out as a suspect quite definitively.
The local police are predictably useless on this one. Deena’s friends Kate and Simon also experience some disturbing events, quickly realizing that the witch is indeed causing mayhem…all because she’s after Sam’s blood. Luring the witch out, the gang sends her to a fiery doom Hocus Pocus-style and all is well in the world.
Except of course it’s not. After learning of the 1978 case of C. Berman, who was pursued by the witch but managed to survive, the gang concludes they’ll have to employ some more strategic tactics. Along with some hooking up just in case this is really the end, they decide to outsmart the witch by killing Sam with an overdose…then bringing her back to life as soon as possible. A simple plan that could never go unexpectedly wrong, obviously.
3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
This is a lot of fun, and the soundtrack is so perfect, but there are a few issues that prevent this one from earning a full 4 stars. Like many a Netflix acquisition, there are a lot of moments that feel very intentionally formulaic. Frequently, there are times when the characters, writing, style transparently evoke Stranger Things, Riverdale, and IT…along with a number of horror classics. Sometimes it works, but at other times it gets overwhelming and confusing.
I like our characters well enough, and it’s refreshing to have an LGBTQ romance so central to the story. Kate is probably the most fun as an ambitious yet rage-fueled drug-dealing cheerleader. But there are a lot of times that everything feels overly glossy and put together, and our teen characters are perhaps too much of a nod to classic horror tropes. This could be a consequence of having seen one too many low-budget shark films: all other production values seem flawless in comparison.
I think my biggest annoyance is that our film does view very much like one that’s setting up other installments. However, Gillian Jacobs does appear briefly and promise entertainment in volume 2, so I can’t be entirely upset. And, in my criticism, I have somewhat underrepresented how much fun this one is as a teen adventure, gory horror, romance, and coming-of-age story. Look out for round 2 next week!