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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Netflix Has Turned RL Stine's 'Fear Street' Horror Novels Into a Gory Slasher Film Trilogy

A different film will hit the streaming platform across the first three Fridays in July, delivering bumps and jumps in instalments set in 1994, 1978 and 1666.
By Sarah Ward
July 01, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
July 01, 2021
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Maya Hawke. A mall. Retro clothes and tunes aplenty. Combine the three, and that's how Fear Street Part 1: 1994 opens. That deja vu you're feeling? That's because they all played a significant part in the third season of Stranger Things, too — but while Hawke is still popping up on Netflix here, she definitely isn't in Hawkins, Indiana anymore.

Instead, her character Heather is working at a mall in Shadyside, Ohio. As the movie's moniker makes plain, the year is 1994, so Hawke has jumped into a new decade. Heather is doing the closing shift at a book store, and viewers first see her gushing over an eerie title, fittingly — only for the customer that's buying it to proclaim: "it's trash; lowbrow horror".

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 might begin with a wink to its source material — that'd be the teen-oriented RL Stine horror books that hit shelves between 1989–2005 — but that isn't the only nod it serves up. Directed and co-written by Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon), this slasher flick splashes its debts to everything from Halloween to Scream across every frame. That's part of the package, as is plenty of blood, gore, bumps and jumps. The end result is unmistakably formulaic, but aptly so; every novel in Stine's series also earned the same description, as did every Goosebumps book as well.

As frequently happens in the opening scenes of horror flicks, Heather's day quickly takes a turn for the worse. That's a rather standard outcome when there's a masked killer on the loose. The next day, the town is shocked and scandalised, although not as much as it really should be — because, unlike its wealthier neighbour town Sunnyvale, Shadyside has a history of these kinds of terrible events. Conspiracy buff Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr, Your Honor) likes to chat about these sinister happenings online. The town even has a witch's curse in its past, too, so there's plenty to discuss in his 90s-era chat rooms. His older sister Deena (Kiana Madeira, Giant Little Ones) doesn't put any stock in the local ghost stories — she has dramas with her ex Sam (Olivia Scott Welch, Unbelievable) to worry about instead — but then the killer heads her way, because of course that's what happens.

From there, Fear Street Part 1: 1994 does two things: follows Deena and her friends as they attempt to evade an ancient evil that's plagued the town for centuries, and sets up a trilogy that'll continue in Fear Street Part 2: 1978 and Fear Street Part 3: 1666. A different film will hit Netflix across the first three Fridays in July to add some retro scares to your winter — with Part 2 taking its cues from Friday the 13th by heading to a summer camp in its titular year, and Part 3 pondering the origins of Shadyside's curse in the 1600s.

And yes, in its noticeably by-the-numbers fashion, this page-to-screen series thankfully fares better than Goosebumps did when it made the same jump.

Check out the trailer for Fear Street Part 1: 1994 below:

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 will be available to stream via Netflix on Friday, July 2 — followed by Fear Street Part 2: 1978 on Friday, July 9 and Fear Street Part 3: 1666 on Friday, July 16.

Top image: Netflix

Published on July 01, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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