Growing up, one of my favorite book series was R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. So just imagine how excited I was when I found out that there was a TV series based on them! In those days, I had a reminder set for every single episode, and would always wait until a commercial break to complete little tasks in between so I wouldn’t miss a moment. Fast forward about 10 years, and my adult love for Goosebumps resurfaced after finding out there would be not one, not two, but three movies based on R.L. Stine’s (much more gory) Fear Street series.
Fear Street is, in many ways, the adult version of what Goosebumps was for me as a kid—both series center around teenage characters, and both feature similar amounts of quirky supernatural content. However, while Goosebumps was a frightening series when I first watched it, I can safely say that child-aged Teresa could never have survived the bloody carnage of the newest R.L. Stine production.
The first two installments of the Fear Street trilogy have been released thus far: Fear Street Part One: 1994 stars Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, and Fred Hechinger as they try to outrun a killer who rose from the dead. While trying to figure out why the killer seems to keep following their group of friends, the teenagers uncover an unexplained cycle of serial killers, and the only person with answers is the woman who survived the last cycle of killings. Thus introducing us to the next film in the trilogy.
Fear Street Part Two: 1978 stars Emily Rudd, Sadie Sink, Ryan Simpkin, and Ted Sutherland as a group of summer campers whose camp counselor (played by McCabe Slye) goes on a killing spree. Both films take place in Shadyside, a town that seems to have everything but luck on its side.
What I really love about the films is their attention to detail—even down to the series title, which seems to be a play on words of “Sarah Fier,” the witch who died on the titular street and then cursed the whole town (and yes, it took me two whole movies to figure that out). Both films take the time to make details come full circle, and that makes them all the more enjoyable.
I can also say the reverse-chronological timeline between the films adds so much to their success. After the reveal of who the 1978 serial killer is in Fear Street Part Two, I remembered that in the first film, he had a sack mask over his face. Throughout the majority of the second film, the mask is absent. I must admit, I started to wonder if maybe they threw the sack over his head in the first installment so we wouldn’t know who he was in the second film?
Instead, as we move to the end of the second film, we are provided with an explanation of this addition of his attire. Those sorts of details can really make or break films for me, so I was very pleased to see that the filmmakers were committed to maintaining narrative consistency between the series installments.
I also have to give both films extra credit for not succumbing to typical horror movie stereotypes. The killer in Part Two, Timmy, is basically the Jason-archetype of Shadyside, except he doesn’t spare anyone—kids and virgins included.
After watching parts one and two of the Fear Street series, I honestly think the only lingering question I have is: where are these kids’ parents? It’s like they’re nonexistent. I think throughout the entire first film, only one parent might have been shown, and that was at the tail end of the film. Ultimately, it doesn’t take away from much of the films, it’s just a tad bit weird that none of these kids’ parents were around to do anything.
These movies are great, and a perfect evolution of the series I loved as a kid. If you were a fan of the Goosebumps books and/or television series like me, then I’m sure this is a film series you will enjoy as well.
Fear Street Part One: 1994 and Fear Street Part Two: 1978 are now available on Netflix… and I’m very excited for Part Three (out on Netflix this Friday, July 16th.)