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Fear Street Part 1: 1994 - A Fresh Take On ‘90s Horror Tropes

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 - A Fresh Take On ‘90s Horror Tropes

A gang of youngsters band together in Shadyside, a small town with a reputation for murder, to take on a supernatural entity that has been responsible for the killings for over three centuries.

The horror flick Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is a riot. Leigh Janiak's triptych will explore the ghostly history of one small town across three centuries, inspired by RL Stine's novels (somewhat more hardcore than his Goosebumps output) without being an adaptation of any of them. Part 1 is set in 1994 (hey, Portishead, Radiohead, and Nine Inch Nails on the soundtrack), and it's a gory homage to the stalk-and-slash period of horror cinema – a collection of stabbings, spooky masks, perplexed cops, and fearful teenagers. While it conjures up images of video stores brimming with low-budget horror flicks with ominous cover art that always promised more than the end product delivered. Fear Street follows through on its promise.

Shadyside is the name of the Stephen King-inspired tiny town (aka Shittyside aka Killer Capital USA). It's where Deena (Kiana Madeira) lives, who is disillusioned with life in deadbeatsville and even more so now that her ex, Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), has relocated to the much wealthier Sunnyvale. At a vigil for the slain mall worker, tensions between the two communities explode, and an accident draws Deena and Sam uncomfortably together. But there will be no reconciliation when it becomes evident that the urban legend surrounding Shadyside's macabre reputation — centered on a curse set by witch Sarah Fier in 1666 — may be true. As a result, Deena and Sam, as well as a Scooby Doo gang of Deena's friends, band together to free the town from its demonic curse.

The outcome is pure horror pleasure, satisfyingly bloody (but not grotty) and brimming with vigor and inventiveness. As a skull-faced killer, a crazed axeman, and a Gothic enchantress (“Normal bitches don't bleed black blood”) raise merry hell, the typical genre scenarios – childcare, the woods, a hospital, a high school — all come into action. But what Fear Street Part 1: 1994 gets right is that its key kids are easily appealing, despite the fact that they are played by a mostly unknown cast. The film wears its LGBT couple characters on its blood-stained sleeve, and Kianac and Welch make for a very compelling couple. Flores Jr. is excellent as Deena's younger brother Josh, who happens to be a serial killer/supernatural expert and so helps keep the plot moving. Kate, an overachiever with a sideline in drug selling, is played by Julia Rehwald, while Kate's lover Simon is played by Fred Hechinger, who provides nice comic relief. These kids simply want to do three things: eat cheeseburgers, listen to The Pixies (it's 1994), and make out. It's impossible not to root for them.


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