Saturday, July 17, 2021

Fear Street: Part One - 1994

Movie Name:
Fear Street: Part One - 1994
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Maya Hawke, Charlene Amoia, David W. Thompson, Noah Bain Garret, Ashley Zukerman, Fred Hechinger, Jeremy Ford, Elizabeth Scopel, Gillian Jacobs, Jordana Spiro, Kevin Waterman
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
Netflix has decided to produce adaptations of author R.L. Stine's Fear Street series (there's 55 books in that series alone), focusing on a trilogy of films, all hailing from director Leigh Janiak, who also collaborated on the screenplay of all three features. The first feature, which takes place in 1994, focuses its story on Deena Johnson, a high school student who lives in the town of Shadyside. Just as the narrative is commencing, we witness a series of murders, which further cements Shadyside as the murder capital of the country. Deena recently broke up with her girlfriend Sam, who moved to the neighboring Sunnyvale, where apparently all is perfect, and where no crimes ever occur. After an eventful night where they have a heated exchange and fight, Deena, her brother Josh, and Sam, alongside a few other people are involved in a car accident. As Deena tries to save Sam, Sam actually becomes "touched" and sees a vision of a witch by the name of Sarah Fier, who many believe has cursed the town for centuries. As Sam is taken to the hospital, and Deena tries to patch their relationship, a series of past Shadyside killers emerges out of nowhere, and start killing people once more. The group of friends realizes that the accident in which they were involved, disturbed the grave of Sarah Fier and that Sam touched her bones. They also realize the killers are focused solely on Sam and that they are seemingly unstoppable. They will have to research and understand their origins, in order to save Sam and prevent more murder sprees.
Director Leigh Janiak who made a name for herself with "Honeymoon", has tried to carve out with this trilogy of films, a humorous, referential and fresh look at the slasher genre, without necessarily reinventing it a la Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven, and their "Scream" series. The first film of the trilogy, taking place in 1994, also turns out to be the least solid of all three. Typically when referencing other periods of time in which stories take place, directors focus on very evident artifacts such as costumes, production & art design, since those are elements that place the audience right in the time frame in question. Janiak opts instead to identify the 90s by mostly putting on display a series of songs from bands that emerged from that era, one after the other, making this crutch all too self evident and also somewhat distracting, without adding much to the story. It's a film that while well crafted, can't escape, both in tone and in aesthetic, to something akin to a modest tv show, one where the character establishment barely registers. The surplus of gore, doesn't necessarily add much interest to the narrative, but as the film races towards its epilogue, and the more supernatural/sinister aspects of the narrative become more prevailing, it does add some momentum and interest to the events being staged. While not a terrible film, it's mostly forgettable and somewhat generic.