Based on the books by the great RL Stine, the FEAR STREET trilogy of movies weaves together three updates of classic slasher films and the Salem witch trials to create a whole that is fresh and utterly compelling. I loved it.
Teenager Deena lives in Shadyside, a town plagued by a long history of poverty, bad luck, and brutal slayings resulting from a serial killer that pops up seemingly with every generation. She’s angry with Samantha, her girlfriend, who moved to Sunnyvale, a bordering town that is prosperous and where people live charmed lives. After a murder spree at a mall, they discover the local legend about a witch may be true, and seek to end the curse on Shadyside. To accomplish this, they must survive supernatural killers and go back into the past to understand the curse.
The first two films borrow heavily from classic horror slasher films like SCREAM and FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH, and the last has a heavy Salem witch trial vibe. Despite the obvious creative homage, there’s a magic here where FEAR STREET’s identity stays solidly at the fore, accomplished by putting people we care about with meta stakes in a familiar situation. The whole comes together beautifully. Despite it being YA, there’s a considerable amount of gore, and every kill is far more painful than titillating. This isn’t STRANGER THINGS, where the meddling kids get off scot-free.
There were a few flaws for me, notably how some characters take horrible wounds but a few scenes later they’re perfectly okay. In typical YA fashion, several of the teenage protagonists are really annoying until they start to grow on you. There are a few minor plot holes. The central romance is fine but undeveloped to a point where I didn’t care about it.
But whatever. This is a solid horror story told with a lot of heart, great stakes, excellent lore, and a meta plot that all ties together beautifully. In short, I loved it.