Director Leigh Janiak’s creation of the “Fear Street” trilogy has to be one of the most impressive cinematic accomplishments this year. It’s tough to find a horror trilogy where every film feels different, but clicks together like a puzzle, so seamlessly. “Fear Street” had every chance of being a complete mess, especially with how it goes backward in time to fill in the gaps in its narrative. Not to mention the fact that it trusts audiences will return is ambitious and often impressive.
Deena from “1994” is mentally transported to 1666 and inhabits the body of Sarah Fier. Fier lived in the town of Union and pursued a forbidden love with a local girl named Hannah. When mysterious events begin to unfold like poisoning of the crops, violent incidents involving the animals, and a vicious series of murders involving the town priest, Fier seeks to uncover what is unfolding. But as she soon becomes the target of the town mob accusing her of being a witch, she tries to prove her innocence while also hoping to put a stop to the apparent curse that’s befallen the town.
The trilogy has managed to create an incredible series of narratives and sub-plots, all of which lead up to a very eerie myth involving a vengeful witch. Maybe the Sarah Fier really did curse the town of Shadyside. Or maybe it’s just been a series of really bad circumstances. Or maybe something else is completely at play here. Janiak and co. set up a lot of elements in the previous films that feel so inexplicable and random. But the third film pretty much seals up all the perceived holes in the narrative and leaves us satisfied. “1666” is unabashedly a film that channels the likes of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” and Robert Eggers’ “The Witch,” invoking the hysteria and paranoia of the period well.
Janiak sacrifices nothing from the previous films for the sake of bringing together her saga, and builds a truly fascinating, and immensely tragic story involving Sarah Fier and the inexplicable horrendous violence that befell the town that would become Shadyside. To add to the legacy aesthetic, most of the cast from “1978” and “1994” re-appear as new characters that help lend some dimension to Shadyside’s legacy. Janiak also helps compliment R.L. Stine’s inherent recurring idea that deep down, teenagers are going to be teenagers, no matter what the period.
Their exploration and rebellion is mistaken for witchcraft, thus kick starting the war that would take the town of Union and split in to two eternally warring fractions of class and social difference. While the film is mostly centered on the legend and fate of Sarah Fier, “1666” delivers on the promise of bringing it all to a close, providing a great climax packed with big tension, gore, and plot twists. Despite the idea that this really isn’t the last we’ll see of these movies any time soon (come on, it’s the horror world), if this is the note we end the movie series on, I’m absolutely ecstatic.
Streaming Exclusively on Netflix.