I live in Shadyside now.
I think enough time has passed for me to feel guilt-free about posting spoilers so HERE WE GO, finally. A ranking of my favorite kills in Fear Street. Okay, maybe “favorite” is the wrong word here. As a throwback to slasher horror, Fear Street nails the gruesomeness and absurdity of its kills. Such used to be the only draw in past horror movies as long-running sequels, series, and copycats spun on beyond the penmanship of its originators. Fear Street, then, gives us pause on the notion, making characters’ demises feel as shocking and gory as they ought to be in the tradition of OG maestros like John Carpenter and Wes Craven.
Director Leigh Janiak knows she’s on hallowed sacred ground and delivers some truly visceral slayings worthy of the genre. Now, I could’ve easily ranked every kill in the trilogy, but I decided to limit myself by hand-picking just 2 kills from each movie. (Also keeping details sparse for those who have yet to check out Fear Street, though I recommend you stop reading if haven’t you seen it.) Without further ado, these are the ones that made the cut.
Honorable Mention: Axe Not, Want Not
Between the 2018 Halloween movie and Fear Street Part Two: 1978, Drew Scheid is fast becoming that one well-meaning dude who keeps dying in horrendous ways. First Michael Myers, now the Camp Nightwing killer. My man Gary gets his head chopped off just when we think we get a breather from the summer camp mayhem. The moment winds up being Gary’s last breath. Drew Scheid was also in HBO’s Mare of Easttown this year and, shocker, he lives. Say it with me: LET SCHEID LIVE IN MORE PROJECTS
6. Heather Punches Out
The one that sets the tone for the whole trilogy. Maya Hawke is a child of Hollywood royalty – the offspring of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. Janiak knew what she was doing with Part One: 1994‘s deliberate nod to Wes Craven. Scream kicked things off with Drew Barrymore’s iconic and shocking demise. When the phone rings at B. Dalton’s, you half-expect a sinister voice to ask Heather, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” Janiak wields all of the fan-favoritism of Hawke’s prior role in Stranger Things 3 and guts it with a kitchen knife. We see every searing slash and stab of her character in brutal, intimate, and slow-motion detail. My girl was just trying to vibe to Nine Inch Nails on a closing shift, only to get mowed down by an unforgiving grim reaper. Heather is doomed in a way she’ll never fully understand, and her senseless murder sets us up for the slaughter to come.
5. Slasher Royal Rumble
Once Deena and Josh find out that the undead killers are drawn to their target’s blood, a trope (and trap) has been set. They use this to their advantage and by Part Three: 1666 they’ve perfected the technique. Josh, Martin, and C. Berman pit each undead slasher against each other through an ingenious use of super soakers, and a dream WWE cage-match ensues. Sure, this is technically 4 kills but who cares. It’s as close as we’ll ever come to a Freddy vs. Jason vs. Michael Myers mashup as we’re likely to get in an era of colliding IPs. It’s bloody nonsense and I loved every minute of it.
4. Push and Shove(l)
Towards the end of Part Two, sisters Cindy and Ziggy have reunited, the Camp Nightwing killer is seemingly defeated, and Cindy’s BFF Alice climbs out of the tunnels on a broken ankle. They’ve all been through hell and back, and this shared triumph makes them believe they can end the curse that same night. But when the Nightwing killer is resurrected, he promptly dashes those hopes. (Reanimating the trope of the zombie-like killer who won’t stay dead.) Cindy – who’s made it a point never to swear – has had it up to here and we’re treated to one of the more crowd-pleasing kills in the trilogy, made all the more rousing through Emily Rudd’s ferocious performance. WHY WON’T YOU 👏 FUCKING 👏 DIE 👏👏👏
3. Sisters 4ever
We know going into Part Two that only one of the Berman sisters will live. We immediately latch onto Cindy, or “C. Berman.” From a horror trope perspective, Cindy is the ideal final girl: virgin, innocent, and hopeful. But when the stage is set for the climactic standoff, this suddenly becomes unclear. We watch both of them get butchered. In the end, it’s Ziggy who miraculously pulls through. What’s so heart-wrenching about this ending is that the two estranged sisters made up in the final moments, but their reconciliation is neither’s salvation. Cindy dies, and Ziggy is traumatized going into adulthood. It’s a gut-punch of a closer that clues us in to the pivotal reveal at the infamous hanging tree, and the injustice that started it all.
2. Sarah Fier
The kill that reframes the entire saga. Shadysiders thought Sarah Fier was their boogeyman? It’s been Solomon Goode all along a.k.a. Sheriff Nick Goode’s ancestral counterpart. Sarah Fier was among the first casualties of Goode’s turn to witchcraft – a practice widely believed to be a woman’s weapon. Fier is subsequently condemned for being in love with another woman, and Goode exploits all of this for his own gain. It’s an upsetting reveal, one that sheds light on the notion that truth and legend aren’t always the same, and that justice is often unresolved for centuries at a time. Marco Beltrami’s score here is both haunting and emotional, catapulting Fear Street in its final stretch into something unexpectedly epic. “The truth shall be your curse.” I bow down.
1. Bread-Slicer Kill
If Heather’s opening kill set Fear Street’s tone, then Kate’s grisly demise signaled the trilogy’s ambition. This is where the Stranger Things castings prove especially diabolical—not to establish similarities, but to set each other apart. There’s a reason why Janiak kills off Maya Hawke first thing. For three seasons now, Stranger Things has held the convention that the main characters are safe from certain death because they’re useful to the plot, or just as a principle. (Because killing them would stir a social media uproar.) This is what dooms supporting characters like Barb, Bob, Alexei, and Billy. In Fear Street Part One, we’re fooled into thinking that the core cast is eventually marked safe. Because by the halfway point, every single one of them has advanced the plot in some way or gave some helpful bit of exposition. We believe all of them will make it to the end, fingers-crossed. Janiak subverts this with devastating effect.
In the supermarket finale, each character paints themselves with a bloody X to lure the undead killers away from Deena and Sam. What we don’t realize is that the script has essentially marked who’s going to die. Julia Rehwald’s character Kate is among them and her fate isn’t pretty—and definitely not for the faint of heart. Kate has proven herself resourceful at this stage and she’s SO endearing and likable that you plead for her to survive at the last second. And then she dies horribly, ruthlessly. It’s been nearly a month and I am still NOT OKAY.
With Kate’s unforgettable bread-slicer kill, Janiak states it outright that she was never doing her version of Stranger Things. She was always doing a slasher movie, and spared no innocents in proving her point.
To lighten the mood a little, here’s the Fear Street cast reacting to their own deaths 😃