RL Stine’s ‘Fear Street’ Film Adaptations Are Scary, But Nothing New To Teen Horror Genre


Based on Fear street books by RL Stine (although not a direct adaptation of any of them) and adapted by first-time feature filmmakers Leigh Janiak and Phil Graziadei, Street of Fear Part 1: 1994 is the first of three interconnected films (Part 2: 1978 comes out next week; Part 3: 1666, the following week) which focus on the dark and violent history of the city of Shadyside over 350 years, a story that may have come from an ancient witch’s tale. The first film opens with the murder of a store clerk at the mall (Strange things‘Maya Hawke) at the hands of one of her best friends, seemingly for no reason and yet also as part of a much more gruesome and extensive mass murder in the mall.

The next day, the victims’ high school comrades find out about the murders and are forced to participate in a candlelight vigil before the big football game against longtime rival Sunnyvale, located in a well-to-do and prosperous community where nothing bad seems to ever happen. , especially when put alongside Shadyside, where mass murders seem to happen every ten years or so, always under the strangest of circumstances. As is often the case in places like this, conspiracy theories are on the rise and young Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) takes to the AOL forums to discuss the latest murders and their apparent connection to an ancient witch’s curse. But Josh’s older sister Deena (Kiana Madeira) is too busy mourning her recent breakup with Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), whose move to Sunnyvale (just 30 minutes away) prompted Deena to “finish the job” by breaking up. with her first to avoid being broken up with (because teenage logic).

An unfortunate car crash resulting from a conflict between Sunnyvale and Shadyside leads Sam to have a vision of the witch and the unexpected appearances of some of the murderers of the decades past seemingly after the children as they bring Sam to the hospital. Most of this chapter is devoted to children trying to find out both why the witch (through her servants) wants them dead and how to go about stopping them. The gang also includes cheerleader Katie (Julia Rehwald), a perfect college student, who sells drugs as a side activity; and Simon (Fred Hechinger), a smarmy white / grocery store clerk, the one member of this group of friends we probably won’t miss if he dies. It’s actually refreshing that almost all of the main cast aren’t straight white males; I have nothing against this demographics, but let’s be honest: I’ve seen this movie a thousand times. I don’t think the movie is better without them, but this casting is something we’ve never seen before, and any step towards normalization is important.

That being said, the film has several hits against it. As you probably figured out from the title, the movie is set in 1994, so naturally about 10,000 needle drops on the soundtrack take it home at that point because you’re not allowed to listen. music only from the year the film was shot. More importantly, nothing on Fear street is scary, even if some of the murders are quirky and gruesome.

Although it has a gay couple at the center of its story, the film seems totally disinterested in them as real people outside of that relationship. When we meet Sam, she left the breakup with Deena and dated a soccer player from her new school in Sunnyvale. Is she straight, bi- or just what her parents expect of her? We will never know the answer, because it is never explored. Kids are types more than characters, just potential victims rather than fully realized (or even partially realized) people, and it feels like a missed opportunity to really change the dynamics of horror movies and give us characters. to worry about whether they live or die. . Yet there is an energy in this chapter of Fear street which I hope is present and improved in future entries. 1994 left me wanting not only more, but something more substantial than a simple To cry out retreaded with a few more culturally sensitive touches.

The film is now streaming on Netflix.

Third Coast Review is Chicago’s locally curated website specializing in coverage of the arts and culture of the Chicago area. Learn more at thirdcoastreview.com

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