A 2021 Film Journey: Days 229 and 230

Yes, I missed yesterday, but I’m not worried about what it says. I may have not written anything yesterday but that wasn’t because I didn’t watch anything. On the contrary over the last two days, I watched an entire trilogy and wanted to wait until seeing all three before putting down my thoughts on any one of them specifically.

Fear Street: Part One – 1994 (2021, Dir. Leigh Janiak)

Watch first 5 minutes of Fear Street Part 1: 1994 before Netflix debut |  EW.com

The first of the Fear Street trilogy is also the most conventional. 1994 is Janiak’s take on the high school slasher, a genre filled with hundreds of entries. The film accompanies this well-trodden subject matter with the post Scream (1996, Dir. Wes Craven) trope of self-aware humor to create a film that is largely derivative of the movies that have come before it. Derivative in this case doesn’t mean bad. The scares work well in the film, and the setup of an ancient witch’s curse has some novelty to it. The film also delivers well on the self-aware humor. This comes through no clearer than with the ridiculously on the nose needle drops peppered throughout the film. Each song more obvious than the last becomes a running fourth wall breaking joke that is never addressed directly but instead left as an Easter egg for the viewer. These smaller pieces show a film maker with a lot of skill that was held down somewhat by a lackluster script.

Fear Street: Part Two – 1978 (2021, Dir. Leigh Janiak)

Apparently Fear Street Part 2: 1978 Cut An Insane Amount Of F Bombs And  Still Had Enough For An R Rating - CINEMABLEND

A slight change of setting makes a world of difference, and 1978 stands out as a highlight among the trilogy. Instead of simply remaking Scream with less novelty, Janiak flexes her muscles by blending different horror subgenres. While the 1980s camp slasher films (think the early Friday the 13ths or Sleepaway Camps) eventually became a parody of themselves, applying the tongue in cheek humor of the first film to a style of film which lacked that levity creates a wonderful blend. The two leads, Ziggy (Sadie Sink) and Cindy (Emily Rudd) Berman have wonderful sisterly chemistry with each other, and they both know when to play up some of the cheesier elements of their film while maintaining the necessary seriousness for the emotional moments to hit home. The film is extremely tight and delivers on the promise of the first film.

Fear Street: Part Three – 1666 (2021, Dir. Leigh Janiak)

Fear Street Part 3: 1666' review: Trilogy saves best for last - Los Angeles  Times

The third film in the trilogy is the hardest to talk about because while it is delivered in a single package, the first hour and the last 40 minutes are completely different movies. The first hour is a 1600s period piece about satanism and witchcraft and is the strongest part of the entire trilogy. The section builds wonderful tension, and the supernatural are implemented discreetly yet definitively. At the hour mark though, the film cuts back to 1994 to finish the underlying story. While it makes sense that the film would need to close out the underlying story, it feels it could either have been condensed down from 40 minutes or given its own fourth entry to allow the period thriller room to breathe.

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