“Fear Street: 1994,” the first of the “Fear Street” trilogy to be released by Netflix, is dramatic, suspenseful, gory and full of surprises — the perfect recipe for an immaculate summer teen slasher.
Running an hour and 47 minutes, “Fear Street: 1994” is a terrific horror movie that goes over the top with its acting, dramatic scenes and plot twists, while still successfully scaring viewers.
Although the film is based on R.L. Stine’s series “Fear Street,” it doesn't follow any particular book. Some nods to both the “Fear Street” and “Goosebumps” series are made throughout the film, while also indulging in the same edgy, promiscuous and thrilling content.
The film begins with the gruesome murder of Heather, played by Maya Hawke, and her murderer’s death.
However, her murderer, Ryan Torres played by David W. Thompson, comes back to torment main characters Deena (Kiana Madeira), Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger) after Sam disturbs the grave of a witch and is cursed: “She’ll take your blood / She’ll take your head / She’ll follow you / Until you’re dead.”
The witch sends the zombies of other people she has cursed to kill Sam, using the scent of her blood to find her. Deena convinces everyone to risk their lives to save Sam — eventually leading everyone to one-on-one fights with killer zombies.
All of the characters are quick on their feet and can hold their own against cursed zombie murderers, leading to creative and fierce fight scenes throughout the movie. But if you are sensitive to gore, make sure to cover your eyes during the hospital and grocery store scenes as they are overblown with blood, screams and surprisingly innovative deaths.
The fight sequences are made even better with the movie’s soundtrack. Recognizable ‘90s hits combined with intense instrumentals during high-stress moments keeps viewers’ hearts racing and creates the perfect atmosphere for a teen slasher.
Of all the characters, Deena is the only one lacking charisma. Her essence throughout the film’s first half hour can be wrapped up by “this town sucks, my life sucks, I’m not like other girls because I see how tragic life is” — an aspect that her friends and family call to her attention, but she ignores. Her decisions, actions and arguments with other characters make her the least likeable character in the film.
Kate, Deena’s best friend, on the other hand, counters Deena as the outgoing drug dealing cheerleader who is quite the rabble rouser.
However, as Kate is unlikable during the beginning of the film, she becomes one of the best characters toward the end as she evolves into a leader, puts up tough fights and turns into the bravest of the group.
Deena’s brother Josh and her friend Simon are the most charming in the film. Josh is the only one who studied up on Shadyside’s history, which includes knowing about the city’s murderous past and the history of the witch and her curse.
Simon is more of a comedic relief — a much needed character for such an intense film. Both characters relieve tension as Josh provides the group with new ideas and plans, while Simon brings about some laughs.
The unlikeable characters are easy to overlook as the story progresses because of the unpredictable twists, dramatic fights and cleverness of the other characters.
Although the film is intended for young adults, some of the content might be too intense for some viewers as there are conversations regarding self harm, alcoholism and drug abuse.
“Fear Street: 1994” is only the first installment of the trilogy. The second film, “Fear Street: 1978,” will give more information about the Shadyside murders and will follow the murders at Camp Nightwing.
“Fear Street: 1978” will be available on July 9, and the final film, “Fear Street: 1666,” is set to release on July 16.