It feels both like yesterday when Fear Street Part One: 1994 dropped and yet, oh so long ago? We’re so used to trilogies spaced out every one or two years. Netflix said “here’s some instant gratification for ya” and circumvented the franchise machine with its weekly rollout of a whole horror trilogy, one that simultaneously pushes the envelope in the streaming game AND revives the slasher for a new generation. Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is the final chapter that brings everything together in a surprisingly emotional and bottom-line crowd-pleasing way. You think you’ll close the book on Shadyside after this? Think again. Part Three just might have you pleading for more Fear Street movies for as long as you have a Netflix subscription.
Part Three picks up right where Fear Street Part Two: 1978 left off – Deena magically transported into Sarah Fier’s POV, all the way to circa 1666 and the Union settlement era a.k.a. pre-Shadyside and Sunnyvale. But Deena’s no Marty McFly here experiencing the past with knowledge of the present. Instead, it’s actress Kiana Madeira getting to play another character. Emily Rudd was the surprise standout of Part Two. Madeira straight up owns the trilogy as MVP with dual throwdown performances.
The reenactment lends so much more than backstory or a history lesson. Town gossip and long-running ghost stories have a way of exaggerating (or obfuscating) the truth. What we discover in Part Three isn’t exactly the curse falling neatly into place, though the arrogant townsfolk would agree that Sarah Fier was her own kind of witch. When the settlement finds out about her blasphemy and cries afoul, she’s condemned to hang, and Fier casts a heartrending curse in her final breath.
You’ll get no spoilers or specifics from me. All I’ll say is that if you think Part One and Part Two plainly spelled out the legend of Sarah Fier, then you’ll be delighted to find that there’s more revelations and narrative surprises left in store. Part Three add layers to things previously hinted at or glimpsed, and even improves on the saga as a whole. You’ll want to queue up Part One and/or Part Two as soon as the credits roll.
Part Three’s setup enables director Leigh Janiak (who co-wrote the trilogy) to reuse her entire Fear Street cast, weaving Sarah Fier’s ghost story from past to present with ancestral names and surviving bloodlines. Sure, only about half of the combined cast sells the Irish accent and archaic tongue, but this is by design. This isn’t the kind of immaculate historical recreation that made Robert Eggers’ The Witch so spellbinding as a period horror movie. It’s history by way of an R.L. Stine book. The accent, too, is a charming nod to Back to the Future Part III, which also had Michael J. Fox doing his own earnest Irish impression as Seamus McFly.
Recasting the same actors in further roles in the past provides us with immediate and helpful context. Janiak does us a solid, basically, allowing us to glean a sense of each character without having to go through another round of introductions. We get who’s who, who’s friends, siblings, star-crossed lovers, and perhaps who’s doomed. There’s a gruesome church scene made all the more impressive by the fact that we don’t see the slaughter happen, and the horror is wielded simply by those cast as the victims.
Most impressive of all is how Janiak ties all three movies together – how interconnected the saga is once exposition takes the backseat and we’re actually shown the cruel symmetry of fate; how much larger Sarah Fier’s shadow looms over Shadyside knowing her origins, and how powerful that fable resonates with Deena in the present. Janiak elevates a YA serial and molds it into a harrowing generational story about buried sins and tragic consequences. Again, I ain’t betraying no deets here. When it all came together, reader, I just thought, “Bravo.”
We’re only in the year 1666 for half of the movie. The second half brings us back to 1994. (The gall Part Three has in dropping a damn title card 50-minutes in, I LOVE IT.) Deena, her brother Josh, and the surviving C. Berman must end the curse before the undead killers come hurtling. Part Three also adds a new player to the game: Darrell Britt-Gibson’s character Martin, the janitor of Shadyside mall with swagger to spare. Across the kills in Part Two and the closing scenes in 1666, Fear Street paints something so grim that it’s refreshing to laugh again AND get that lush neon-lighting back in the frame.
This is where the Stranger Things comparisons will run amok. (Fair, since two of the show’s stars are featured in Fear Street.) All involved must combine wits and forces if they are to survive closing time. The final showdown similarly takes place at a mall where this saga began. Part One’s school skirmish and supermarket finale are mere appetizers compared to what unfolds in Part Three’s rip-roaring climax.
It takes all the rules established and all of the juicy throwbacks that made this trilogy so much fun as a nostalgic horror thrill-ride and puts them into a blender. We get a neon super-soaked royal rumble, and it is just as riotously crowd-pleasing as it sounds. I was in such disbelief that I had to rewind the movie to realize I wasn’t imagining a WWE cage match in my head. It somehow out-Stranger Things the finale of the last Stranger Things that I’ve mentally changed my geekdom residence from Hawkins to Shadyside. It’s rare for trilogy-cappers to stick the landing. Even rarer for them to be both madly entertaining and emotionally satisfying.
The high note this saga ends on is why Fear Street will persevere beyond Netflix’s Top 10. Deena and Sam’s queer love story is the soul of this horror trilogy – a quantum leap from where such themes and arcs were rendered in the very eras that Fear Street calls back to. In past horror movies, any transgressions from the traditional coupling would’ve gotten characters like Deena and Sam killed in the first act. Instead, their love story endures, and Fear Street carves up a nice little alcove for them in the Final Girl hall of fame. It’s a resounding finish that made me quietly utter “oh no” because I knew I wasn’t closing the book on this saga anytime soon. I predict that I’ll be obsessed with Fear Street through the rest of summer, then pick it up again in time for Halloween 😈
I don’t know yet if Part Three is my favorite of the bunch. I’m due for MULTIPLE rewatches now that the trilogy is complete and ready to binge for psychos and newcomers alike. But I will say that Fear Street made for an unexpected hype and obsession that I usually reserve for the MCU. If Fear Street is the MCU-nification of the horror genre as we know it, then my body is READY.
Shadyside 4 lyfe 🤘