So far, 2021 has been the year for the return of horror movies. Fear Street Part 1: 1994 carries that energy, while bringing the old school slashers back into the forefront. After a series of murders, a teen, her internet addicted brother, and her friends face an evil witch trying to wreak havoc on the town of Shadyside. The nostalgic horror captures an era of the genre that is well-loved by older audiences, while reeling in the younger crowd at the same time.
Director Leigh Janiak takes the reigns in Part 1 of the trilogy based on stories written by R.L. Stine. The time period stands loud and clear, hitting every childhood chord in my body. Hearing the AOL messenger notification chime off as Deena's younger brother Josh sits at the computer screen to the opening shot of the neon bright lighting at the mall put a huge smile on my face. Anytime I started to believe the movie took place in modern time I was quickly hit with another staple from the 90's.
Fear Street embodies the slasher tropes that paved the way for it. Jump scares are very minimal, but the terror of being hunted by an unknown force (in this case three) raises all the tension. Skullface, who was modeled after Ghostface from Scream, and Camp Nightwing's killer, based on Jason from Friday the 13th, feel a lot more aggressive than their mentor counterparts. Seeing Jason stalk a counselor down would scare anyone, but the fact his counterpart sprints at you with an axe will have you feeling more uneasy.
The story and characters are both great in the new age slasher. Deena (portrayed by Kiana Madeira) and Samantha (portrayed by Olivia Welch) grace the screen as what I think is the first openly gay couple in a horror movie (I could be wrong). After a rough break-up, Samantha becomes possessed by the witch haunting the town of Shadyside. This drives Deena to do everything she can to make sure Sam doesn't meet her demise. The narrative of this couple never feels like it is trying to hard or being forced upon the audience, which is great writing. The rest of the cast hold their own with Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), Deena's nerdy younger brother, Kate (Julia Rehwald), Deena's best friend, and Simon (Fred Hechinger) each have their moments of shine. Though it is a horror movie with casualties, the scenes will keep you on edge and tense until those moments arise. Even towards the end, Janiak lures you into a false sense of security.
To conclude, this movie is a fun and great watch for horror fans old and new. It did have some slow beats towards the beginning of the film, but then it amps up and never lets off the gas. This film is only the beginning of the trilogy, which started off right. I hope that this energy continues in the next installment, which takes place at a summer camp in 1978. We can only imagine what scares that will bring.
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