The time has come. It is finally time to take a long, dark stroll down Nostalgia Ave. Located in the twin city of Reminiscent-Sentimentality, located somewhere between the state of ‘Memberberry and the province of Yearning for the past. Let’s take a look at Fear Street Part 1.
Much like most kids of the ’90s, I grew up on Goosebump books and their television episodes. I would stay awake to catch the episode at a decently late hour, to then have my fear followed up by an episode of Are You Afraid Of The Dark? The Haunted Mask is still the episode that is engraved in my psyche, it was the episode I watched repeatedly as a kid. So much that the VHS was eventually rendered useless. It would give me endless nightmares and a reluctance to put on any type of mask, no matter the occasion. My relationship with Fear Street was non-existent as I was born three years after the first of this series was released. Fear Street had a heightened sense of maturity that was catered to teens and they were a little too much for my wee baby eyes. As I got older I started to connect a little bit with these books but not as much as I do now with my tremendous appreciation for what R.L Stein has done for not only my childhood but how he continues to inspire and incite fear in so many others. I couldn’t be happier to review these films, regardless of how I feel about them. It is an honor.
Now, our stroll has hit an interesting turn. We have come to the intersection of Nostalgia Ave and Fear Street. Before we make that subtle left turn to arrive at our destination, I have one warning for the child-like spark left inside us. And, that warning is… BEWARE! You’re in for a scareeee!
Fear Street Part 1 starts off on a high note, as we are left to close up shop at the Shady side Mall bookstore with, at the time, appears to be one of – if not – our main character, Heather. In a very Scream-Esque intro, we are gripping the edge of our seat with a tension-filled sequence. The neon lights of the ’90s mall setting display an insight into our nightmares as a Ghostface-like killer is on the prowl. The long dark gown and hulking hunting knife. The sporadic and clumsy movements of our killer are akin to what we have seen in that 1996 masterpiece, with a final chase that absolutely hearkens all the way back.
The opening sequence – mixed with the opening credits – was the absolute highlight of my viewing experience. The glowing neon lights of a darkened mall corridor, the emptiness of being somewhere filled to the brim with materialism, and a score that will shake you to your core. The film never reached this amount of tension again and I would have loved to stick with the characters introduced here instead of the ones we got to follow around for the remainder of the run time. The diversity outshined by shallowness. Caricatures of ’90s high school punks and preps making unbelievable decisions that we would expect out of an 80s low-budget slasher. A film that is 27 years removed from its titular year is giving us a lot of nods to some of our favorite horror films. Since I’m not quite sure if this film is targeted at a younger audience, it began to feel all too familiar to me as I found myself looking for anything to help push the genre forward.
From the get-go, it feels like you know exactly where this story is headed but fortunately for us all, it’s not totally paint-by-numbers. This movie is much more vulgar than anticipated, while still having a child-like wonder. Crude humor and rotten language, seemingly no adult supervision, and an incredulous police force make Fear Street seem like standard slasher fare but what I eventually learned is that you can’t walk down this road without navigating through a couple of twists and turns. Credit to this film for attempting to subvert our expectations of what a simple ’90s high school slasher film looks like by adding in a little bit of its own unique mythos. Swinging for the fences and not totally connecting but it’s undeniably creative and exciting in ways that could and should deepen this entire series of films.
Director Leigh Janiak is quite wonderful at framing an action or gore sequence. The kills can be repetitive at times but some are nasty and fierce, including one that you won’t soon forget and absolutely will not have you rushing out to get a fresh sandwich from the store anytime soon. The camera doesn’t shy away from the brutality as our eyes catch every last squirt of blood. The costumes and makeup designs were interesting and fun. The atmosphere was oozing a Goosebumps vibe, set pieces were fun enough to push the film along but the sound design and score is the cream of the crop. It had a soundscape that was genuinely creepy. Not to mention the foley that was absolutely over the top but in an endearing sort of way. There are scenes of real-life drama, themes of societal pressures, but not enough depth in our characters to really generate enough sympathy to be upset when some of the conflicts take place.
All in all, Fear Street Part 1 is a fun, campy, young adult-type horror film. Not totally in my wheelhouse but hopefully a good setup to the next two films that have endless potential to up the ante, cater to an older audience, and provide us with that elusive depth that I’m always looking for. Replace ten minutes from the runtime in scenes that just seemed like cannon fodder with a genuine character arc and a more insightful look into our characters’ past. I say this with some reluctance as this all could come to fruition in the upcoming installments but judging this on its own terms then I must express my unprofessional opinion. Can’t wait to see you down the road as we go back in time to witness the cans being kicked down Fear Street in 1978.
Last Updated on July 18, 2021 by Horror Facts