Sarah Kirk says Fear Street 1666 is an intriguing installment loaded with gore, horrific atrocities, and super soakers.
Fear Street: Part Three - 1666 is the third and final installment of the Fear Street trilogy, directed by Leigh Janiak and based on the Fear Street book series by R.L. Stine. The past week marked the first anniversary of the trilogy’s release on Netflix. The film follows Deena and Josh uncovering the curse of Sarah Fier. The audience and Deena are transported to 1666, where it all began. The truth about Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel) comes to light when Deena (Kiana Madeira) finds herself in a memory as Sarah in the original Shadyside settlement. After a tragedy, the villagers believe the devil is at work, and a witch-hunt ensues to capture Sarah Fier and her lover Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch).
After the Shadyside massacre in Fear Street Part One: 1994, five teens are determined to solve the centuries-old curse tracing back to Sarah Fier. In Fear Street Part Two: 1978, Shadyside and Sunnyvale teenagers continue their feud, but an ax murderer brutally murders Shadysiders at Camp Nightwing. Survivors like Ziggy (Sadie Sink), later known as C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs), find themselves inextricably linked to Shadyside’s curse.
When Deena enters Sarah’s memories in 1666, she experiences the frenzied townsfolk and signs of plague in the form of rotting food, dead livestock, and Pastor Cyrus Miller (Michael Chandler) locking and murdering the town’s children in the meeting house. Sarah and Hannah flee when they are accused of witchcraft and deemed sinners before Sarah discovers the harmful truth behind the town’s misfortune and sacrifices herself to save the woman she loves. When Sarah dies, Deena awakens from the vision in 1994 with the knowledge of how to save Shadyside and asks Ziggy, Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), and Martin (Mike E. Winfield) for help. Everything comes full circle.
The film is a satisfying final installment. The story is original and retains a perfectly meshed narrative from previous films with an array of themes such as forbidden love, witchcraft, misogyny, homophobia, and corrupt systems. The performances are shaky initially but improve, resulting in an engaging viewing experience. The film is gripping and becomes even more so as the plot thickens.
Witchcraft and homophobia are the film series’ most prominent themes. Sarah and Hannah’s rejection of the town’s status quo sets off a witch hunt. They are feared by the townspeople for their differences and labeled as wicked. It is clear how blatant the fear of independent women is. The villagers assume that Sarah and Hannah have lain with the devil and brought misfortune with their evil deeds. The accusations are outrageous.
Those in charge of the chauvinistic witch hunts are the sanctimonious patriarchal men. Forbidden love and the Puritan fear of queer love are the catalysts for the story. Religion and adherence to God are of utmost importance to the town of Union. Once compliance with God is deemed broken, chaos reigns upon sinners, and this was a depressing reality for many women of that period.
Janiak establishes a well-structured plot with co-writers Phil Graziadei and Kate Trefry, creating parallels between 1666 to 1994 using the familiar locations as Deena makes the connections. The story’s flow and interconnectedness make the film surprisingly enjoyable. For example, the hanging tree where Sarah dies is in the middle of Shadyside Mall, where it’s stood for centuries. The passageway beneath the meeting house in 1666 is the same underground passageway beneath the mall and the main building at Camp Nightwing. These connections are what brings together the narrative. The structure of the stories is deliberate, and when Deena navigates her way through the mall, we see the parity of 1666 Union.
In the beginning, the acting is dubious, with faux Irish accents. The story was engaging enough that I could overlook the poor accents. The standout performance in the series comes from Ashley Zuckerman. I was shocked by how emotionally attached I became to his performance. In an interview with Collider, Zuckerman described his characters, stating, “There's this attitude that you have to love your characters, and I think that's a nice trick if you have trouble identifying with bad behavior, but I don't think I have trouble with that. We are all multitudes. For most human beings, there's a spectrum of bad behavior.” He plays Solomon Goode and Sheriff Nick Goode.
Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is horrifying and bursting with gore while also telling stories of love, sacrifice, and corruption. The juxtaposition between 1666 and 1994 is well-presented. The film is visually attractive and heart-pounding, with plenty of monsters, a history of witchcraft, and plot twists. Fear Street builds on the Slasher genre and subverts stereotypes with its heroes. It takes its time pulling you in, but you won't be able to stop watching once it does.
Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is currently streaming on Netflix.