Movie Review: ‘Fear Street 1994’

"Fear Street 1994" is a fun little movie. There is a surprising amount of gore and the effects are quite good, which elevate this flick above the story and characters.

I was a huge Fear Street fan when I was a kid. So of course, I was very excited when, 30 years or so after the release of the first book, a film was finally released. Not just a film; a trilogy of films.

The first one, set in 1994, follows a group of kids from Shadyside as they face down a slate of maniacal killers. The kids are an unfortunate mix of bland stereotypes: Deena, who is dealing with a bad breakup with her girlfriend, Sam, who moved and now goes to the rival school in Sunnyvale; Deena’s younger brother Josh, an internet chatroom devotee who is also obsessed with his town’s dark past; Kate, the drug-dealing cheerleader and object of Josh’s affections; and goofy, perpetually-alone Simon.

After a slaughter at the local mall leaves eight dead, including the perpetrator, dressed in a skeleton costume, someone in a skeleton costume begins stalking Deena. She thinks it is Sam’s new boyfriend Peter, out for revenge after a prank goes bad and causes a car wreck. Deena goes to check on Sam in the hospital, and Simon, Kate, and Josh go with, looking for revenge. Sam and Deena fight, but their fight takes a backseat when the skull face killer kills Peter. The girls run, finding a number of dead bodies on the way. The sheriff arrives and kills skull face, but on the way out, Deena sees that the guy behind the mask is Ryan, the same guy who was behind the mall massacre. Except Ryan was very dead just a few days before.

The kids escape in a stolen ambulance, but when other killers from Shadyside’s history show up – killers that should be dead – they realize they have bigger issues than just the skull face killer. They must figure out what these maniacs are looking for, and how to stop them.

Fear Street 1994 is a fun little movie. There is a surprising amount of gore and the effects are quite good, which elevate this flick above the story and characters. The story is a straightforward slasher with a side of the supernatural. There is nothing earth-shattering; no twists in the story. Similarly, the characters offer nothing to make them stand out or to move them beyond their stereotype.

There are a few Easter eggs for fans of the books: in the opening scene of the film, a woman buys The Wrong Number, a classic Fear Street book (without Fear Street written across it) and a few other books can be seen on shelves. One of the killers in the film was the maniac from Camp Nightwing, which was a camp in the books (and also the setting for the second film in the trilogy). I haven’t read the books in 25 years, but I’m sure there are others.

This feels like the perfect Netflix movie. Not quite worth the cost of a theater ticket, but absolutely worth two hours on the couch. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy a big pile of Fear Street books, listen to a bunch of ‘90s grunge music, and relive my youth.

Fear Street 1994 premieres July 2 on Netflix

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