July 16th, 2021
MOVIE: FEAR STREET PART THREE: 1666
STARRING: KIANA MADEIRA, ASHLEY ZUKERMAN, GILLIAN JACOBS, OLIVIA SCOTT WELCH
DIRECTED BY: LEIGH JANIAK
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Sticking the landing is an often tricky thing to do. It’s even tougher when trying to succeed at something freshly done in 2021. The Fear Street series is already a smash hit within the horror community, where director/writer Leigh Janiak was able to put together three movies in a row on Netflix and capture various stages of the horror genre with each installment. Fear Street Part One: 1996 took us back to the mall of Shadyside, doing things with a Wes Craven-Scream style, and great 90’s hits. Part Two was a slicing and dicing of Friday the 13th with a trip to summer camp. And now we have Part Three: 1666, which is a trip to the gothic horror style- Think The Witch, Apostle, or Black Sabbath– when the early beginnings of Shadyside and Sunnyvale was built on the bedrock of witchcraft, or so they say. I wouldn’t call this finale a perfect landing, where the start is clunky, then it grooves, and the ending gives the audiences a much needed resolution. What I would say is that the Fear Street collection is a massive horror trilogy success, capturing all the things about the genre that makes it the best today.
In Fear Street Part Two, it was revealed that Deena (Kiana Madeira)- the hero in Part One– has now inhabited the spirit of Sarah Fier back in 1666. The legend has it that Fier is the witch that has cursed all of Shadyside and Part Three reveals the true story of how the legend came to be. Director Leigh Janiak, along with co-writers Phil Graziadei and Kate Trefry, make the unique decision of casting all of the characters from Part One in the roles of townsfolk, including Denna’s brother Josh now inhabiting the body of Sarah’s brother Henry, and on down the list. This decision is a blessing and a curse, where the actors feel relatively out of place, some trying to hold onto old colonial accents that fade in and out. Once that frustration fades, Part Three of Fear Street begins to blossom, telling the story of Sarah Fier and what led her to place a wicked killing curse on this town for centuries.
Similar to the first two installments, when Part Three turns things on it doesn’t slow down. The group of younger town folk plan a fireside celebration in the woods, which is where Sarah Fier and Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch) sneak off to share a bit of romantic privacy, but when the town folk discover that Pastor Cyrus Miller (Michael Chandler) has gone mad, killing people in his church in gruesome fashion, the first claim of reason is that the women in love are witches cursing the town. It’s here where Part Three begins to hum, where the survival for Sarah and Hannah is a chase around the small town, while trying to discover what evil spirit has made Pastor Miller lose his mind. The town folks carry torches and the two women begin to discover that there is something underground making people turn crazy. An evil spirit, a monster, a beating creature has awakened, and the sacrificial lamb has become Sarah Fier. It’s here where the true curse begins to take hold.
What is obvious from the first two Fear Street installments it’s that director Leigh Janiak not only has the visual skill for creating this horror world, but also a grasp of the entire genre. It’s hard not to view the third installment with rosey glasses because the accomplishment of the three films as a whole feels monumental. Three movies, three weeks in a row, directed by a woman that deserves all the praise. And that credit can also be passed onto her delightful cast of young actors, destined to be a part of the next installment of a Fear Street story, in whatever capacity that involves.
Bookending the third installment of Fear Street is the climactic finale, where the story goes back into the future, delivering the conclusion of how the Shadyside kids bring an end to their town curse at the Shadyside mall. Although the final act is necessary to the completion of the saga, it can’t help but feel shoehorned in, a fourth act you might say, where the evidence becomes clear that maybe a mini-series would have been the better approach instead. Either way, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is a solid closure to one of 2021’s finest accomplishments in horror cinema. If I had to rank them I would go, Part Two, One, and Three. No matter what, I was a big fan of spending my weekends on Fear Street.
FEAR STREET PART THREE: 1666 PREMIERES ON NETFLIX THIS FRIDAY JULY 16TH
Written by: Leo Brady