Over the decades there have been some utterly brilliant cult classic thrillers centered around the horror of serial killers. For myself, growing up we had Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and various others. Now, Netflix is bringing to life R. L. Stine’s book series with the first in a three-part movie series Fear Street Part 1 1994.
Directed by Leigh Janiak, starring Kiana Madeira (Deena), Olivia Scott Welch (Sam), Benjamin Flores Jr. (Josh), Julia Rehwald (Kate), and Fred Hechinger (Simon). Fear Street Part 1 1994 tells the story of a group of teenagers who disturb an ancient evil, one that has terrorized the town of Shadyville for 300 years. An insurmountable number of unexplained murders, all rumored to be connected to the town’s dark past. Now, these high schoolers are on the run for their lives.
Bloody hell, I had such fun watching this film! If you’ve come looking for a serious slasher flick, this ain’t the one. However, if you’re looking for a film that embodies the work of some classic 90’s movies like Scream, mixed in with influences from Stranger Things, you’re about to unlock an absolute treasure. Fear Street Part 1 is a self-aware film that leans into the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s overly dramatic, awash with nostalgia, and it has some utterly brutal death scenes. It doesn’t promise to be something it’s not, and for that, it really clicked for me.
Early on the film does an effective job of world-building, using a visual narrative of scrolling through newspaper headlines that go all the way back to 1666. Later on in the film, Josh revisits this history to reestablish the timeline and foreshadows the next two movies, which also creates the foundation for the plot for Part 1. This also comes back around at the end of the film, as it demonstrates why Part 2 is so important.
One element that surprised me was the melding of horror elements. The movie includes the tension of a slasher, and the horrors of the occult. Something I hope we continue to see more of in the sequels. The audio of each of the deaths is highly exaggerated so that you hear excruciating detail with each stab, slash, and cut. It’s so over the top, but it really adds to the entertainment value, that “oh shit” moment. The performances were particularly solid with the main cast really getting lost in the roles, which helps create the tension. You can feel their adolescent fear. Madeira, and Flores Jr. in particular were brilliant in their roles. I was less sold on the performance or Sam, who felt quite wooden and flat at times in comparison to her more energetic co-stars. And finally, the aesthetics of the film are snappy, with the 90s themes just connecting so well visually. The opening scene is located in an over-saturated neon mall during the closing, as a young girl is stalked by a masked killer, and everything about it from the clothes, to the music, is on point for the era. The quality of the film really pops, as the effects themselves look far from cheap.
In the end, Fear Street Part 1 encapsulates what made 90s thriller movies so popular. It does an excellent job in world-building its lore and foreshadowing the sequels. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously, and leans into the nostalgia of the time, while also delivering some fun death scenes. While horror isn’t a genre I mean into often, I really found this film to be wildly entertaining, and I absolutely can’t wait to rewatch it, and I’m excited for the sequels. I wasn’t expecting this, but I can’t wait for Part 2.
Fear Street Part 1 1994 is available now, exclusively on Netflix.
Fear Street: Part 1 1994
- Rating - 9/109/10
In the end, Fear Street Part 1 encapsulates what made 90s thriller movies so popular. It does an excellent job in world building it’s lore, and foreshadowing the sequels. The film doesn’t takes itself too seriously, and leans into the nostalgia of the time, while also delivering some fun death scenes. I wasn’t expecting this, but I can’t wait for part 2.
Aaron is a contributing writer at But Why Tho, serving as a reviewer for TV and Film. He is also the co-host and social media manager of the Nerds Social Club podcast.
Hailing originally from England, and after some lengthy questing, he’s currently set up shop in Pennsylvania. He spends his days reading comics, podcasting, and being attacked by his small offspring.