The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Netflix] - FEAR STREET PART THREE: 1666 | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Netflix] - FEAR STREET PART THREE: 1666

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 review
A young woman is accused of witchcraft by her small community in 17th century America.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Leigh Janiak

Starring: Kiana Madeira, Ashley Zukerman, Gillian Jacobs, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr, Sadie Sink

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 poster

1994, the opening chapter of director Leigh Janiak's ambitious trilogy inspired by RL Stine's Fear Street books, riffed on the slasher revival of the '90s (even if that revival didn't kick off until '96 and the release of Wes Craven's Scream). 1978, the middle instalment, was a love letter to the summer camp slashers of the late '70s and '80s. Both movies were heavy on period needle drops and fashion items.

For the concluding chapter Janiak takes us back to 1666, so I guess that rules out the needle drops? Think again, as only half of the movie actually plays out in its titular time period, with the second half returning to 1994 for one of those overlong climaxes the kids seem to love now.

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 review

As you might expect, 1666 plays out very much in the realm of folk-horror, the sub-genre that shined brightly in the '70s and has made a recent comeback with the likes of The Witch and Midsommar. At the end of 1978, the trilogy's heroine Deena (Kiana Madeira) had a flashback to 1666, where she inhabited the body of Sarah Fier, the witch seemingly responsible for all of her small town's woes.

The first half of 1666 is a somewhat generic take on folk-horror. All the trappings are there, with a small community of pilgrims living in fear of an unknown terror plaguing their people. When the village pastor massacres his Sunday school flock, Sarah is blamed, accused of witchcraft for indulging her lesbian lust for the pastor's daughter (Olivia Welch). Fleeing the angry mob, Sarah uncovers the truth behind the darkness engulfing her community.

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 review

In one of those "What were they thinking?" decisions, Janiak casts not only Madeira as Sarah Fier, but the rest of the very modern American casts of 1994 and 1978 as the villagers. This means we're treated to the bizarre sight of a multicultural community living in racial harmony in…the America of the 17th century? And for some mad reason the villagers all speak with awful stage Oirish brogues. The effect is akin to watching a high school play or a skit from some comedy sketch show. Every time one of the fresh-faced young actors from the previous instalments shows up garbling a ridiculous accent, we're immediately taken out of both the period and the narrative.

As the 1994 climax plays out, with the villains of Shadyside descending on the town mall en masse, horror fans will likely find themselves mourning the opportunity this endeavour missed to create the horror equivalent of something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What should be the Avengers of horror baddies are just a bunch of generic goons, because we don’t know anything about them. We've been told about them in many rambling speeches, but the trilogy never took the time to show us any of their antics, to build up their menace. Watching the climax of the Fear Street trilogy is like watching The Monster Squad if you've never heard of Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolfman and the Gillman.

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 review

An epilogue suggests further instalments to come, but after slogging through the initial six hours of Fear Street, I can't imagine too many horror fans will be keen to return to Shadyside. But was this trilogy ever really aimed at fans of horror movies, or did it set out to capture the attention of the fanbase for teen soap operas?

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is on Netflix from July 16th.

2021 movie reviews