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Photo: Fear Street Trilogy
Horror is such a massive genre, and over recent years it feels like there has been a resurgence in the topic as more ambitious projects have been greenlit and more subgenres have come to light. Additionally, the world has become a fan of trilogies. From books to movies, there’s something engaging about a story that takes place over three installments, whether it’s the classic ‘Star Wars’ original trilogy, or Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman’ films. In 2022 we had a horror trilogy sneak up on us, starting with the release of Ti West’s 70s-inspired film ‘X,’ followed by a prequel, ‘Pearl,’ months later, along with an announcement for a third film entitled, ‘MaXXXine.’ However, it wasn’t the first horror trilogy of note in recent years. Last year, the world was graced with a gory slasher trilogy based on the teen book series by R.L. Stine: the ‘Fear Street’ trilogy.
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Directed by Leigh Janiak and starring heaps of young talent, including Sadie Sink, Kiana Madeira, and Olivia Scott Welch, Netflix released the three films for consecutive weeks in July of 2021. The story of each film was strung together like music and each individual film focused on a different era while giving us memorable characters and memorable kills. Who could ask for anything more? One of the best aspects of this ambition was that the films were available on streaming (as controversial as streaming services are, it seemed like a benefit in this situation), so you could entice yourself with some mayhem during summer weekends. They were also released quickly, with just enough time in between to leave audiences wondering about the cliffhangers. Since Halloween is just around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to look back at one of last year’s best horror accomplishments.
Fear Street Trilogy:
Fear Street Part One: 1994
Everyone loves to be taken back to the 90s. Flannels were all the rage, computers were bulky, and the music scene was turning up some of the best bands and inventive singles. This film was the one that started it all, and it did a pretty darn good job. Though the film starts out with just one slasher on the loose, it introduces us to several creepy killers all brought in front of the camera with a supernatural element. This film follows a group of teens in 1994 as they became targeted by these killers and seek to discover why all these tragedies have been occurring (a question that won’t truly be answered until the trilogy concludes). The characters and filmmaking are bright, with distinctive personalities, clever lighting, and camera tricks. Plus this first one includes what I would say is the most memorable kill out of all of them (let’s just say, beware of a bread slicer).
Part One has a lot to love about it and leaves off on a hefty cliffhanger. It brings back some of the glory of 90s-style slashers, such as the iconic ‘Scream,’ which served as much of the inspiration for this film, while still adding in modernity through the characters and the inventiveness that comes from the story. The standout character is probably the savvy Kate, played by Julia Rehwald, who shines with her sharp wit. This film had to do the job of convincing viewers to want to see two more entries into the franchise, and it did just that, complete with an engaging story from start to finish.
Fear Street Part Two: 1978
In my personal opinion, this one is the best one. Though the middle piece in a trilogy can have trouble feeling like filler, this one could stand on its own as a single film, but its effect is heightened as the journey still fits in perfectly with the one that came before and the one that comes after. Taking place at a summer camp in the 70s, this one gets its inspiration from ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Sleepaway Camp,’ and tells the story of sisters Cindy and Ziggy Berman, played wonderfully by Emily Rudd and Sadie Sink respectively. Cindy and Ziggy, along with their friends and fellow campmates, are thrust into a night of terror as a killer awakens and a curse is running wild – the very same curse of slashers that plagues our protagonists in 1994.
The gore and body count rise up a level for this installment, and the characters may be even more memorable than the ones we met in Part One, though unfortunately, most of them meet their end. One part that is such a clever use of storytelling is that it utilizes relevant characters who were introduced as adults in 1994, now being played by younger counterparts for the events that happened to them in 1978,… Part Two also works so well because its emotional center of the Berman sisters plays with your heartstrings up until the end. The lore of the world is given more context and the setting provides so many opportunities for the havoc that is wrecked on these kids. It’s told as a flashback, so Part Two still has strings tied to Part One. Furthermore, it ends on another cliffhanger after flashing forward to 1994 to get everyone riled up for Part Three.
Fear Street Part Three: 1666
The ending is here! The final film in the trilogy is split up into roughly two halves, the first of which takes us back to the 1600s, diving more heavily into the lore of the world and how this trail of slashers began. Actors from both parts play new roles, and the year being 1666 makes it feel like ‘The Crucible,’ and the Salem Witch Trials with maybe even an actual witch. The second half takes us to 1994, once again, with a “final battle” of sorts between our heroes and our villains. This climax does not disappoint. After learning the secrets of what went down in the 1600s, it’s time to set everything right.
Ultimately, Part Three ties up loose ends while still being a heck of a good story in and of itself. Though the two halves can be jarring in the same film, the threads of the story in both timelines are expertly woven together to create a satisfying conclusion. All in all, you can tell there was so much dedication poured into these projects, and the way they complete each other as a trilogy makes everything feel grander. Who knows? There could even be more ‘Fear Street’ installments or new trilogies down the line. For now, I recommend giving these movies a watch this month. And if you’ve already seen them, it’s the perfect time for a rewatch (I promise, it’s still fun the second time around). It was an ambitious project, and it paid off.
By Rachel Beltowski
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Rachel Beltowski is a screenwriter and film critic, with a passion for character-driven stories and thought-provoking themes. From adventure to horror, Rachel enjoys stories which take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster and allow for personal expression that would otherwise go silent. Rachel was drawn to The Hollywood Insider’s dedication to individual perspectives and positive world impacts. The Hollywood Insider has provided a foundation for Rachel to share her insights and leap into the center of the entertainment industry. Rachel hopes to bring a fresh voice into the world of film and television, and share her love of stories with others.