Fear Street Part Three: 1666 review – Novelty is a good thing!

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 review – Novelty is a good thing!

With Fear Street Part Three: 1666, Netflix brings to a close one of its more exciting marketing ploys, and it’s a model I hope they continue to play around with in the future. It was a delightful bit of throwback fun to be on the hook for three weeks of non-bingeable movies. Everyone I know watched each entry at around the same time, and we were able to discuss it, water cooler style, in the days that followed. Film/Horror Twitter were buzzing with excitement and discussion for nearly a month straight, and positively so (a miracle on twitter). Between Fear Street, Shudder’s weekly live-streamed horror events, and Final Exam trivia, it’s a great time to be a very-online degenerate who loves ghouls, goblins, and gore. So even though Fear Street: 1666, taken in a vacuum, was my least favorite of the trilogy, it remains part of one of my most favorite movie experiences of recent memory.

1666 picks up where 1978 left off, with Deena being sucked into a supernatural vision that places her in the body of Sarah Fier, the woman whose spell has enveloped the down of Shadyside for centuries. The period setting looks exactly as you’d expect it to: bonnets, pitchforks, piggies, and hay. Much of the cast are repurposed actors from previous entries of the film. This is a great choice that ups the novelty fun of the trilogy, while also speaking to the deep parentage of the contemporary characters we’ve come to know. Everyone speaks with an old-timey accent (a terrible choice that few pull off without sounding ridiculous), but once you get used to it, it becomes easy to ignore.

As it turns out, Deena and Sarah Fier have one main thing in common. Namely that both are attracted to women, and both have to put up with a lot of bullshit because of it. Where Deena deals with bullying and other modern horrors, Sarah is straight up accused of witchcraft. And as we all know, the torture she suffers as a result has far-reaching supernatural consequences. There’s more to the spell, however, and its secrets are woven directly into the fabric of Shadyside.

I won’t go into specific plot details, but to use a multi-century curse as a metaphor for systemic social ills is some seriously inspired writing. Shades of this popped up in the previous entries, and when they did, they always felt undercooked. I now know that they were actually just simmering. While my criticism stands (a movie should feel complete in a vacuum, regardless of the larger series), when taken as a trilogy, the thematic framework is exceptionally strong.

The 1666 portion of the film relies on devices we’re all super familiar with to tell its story. In a post-The Witch world, it seems there’s little ground to cover in this realm of genre, at least in the confines of an already established story framework, but Fear Street acquits itself pretty well in terms of bringing some chills. Plenty of gore and insanity are afoot, and one scene in a cursed church features some imagery that is truly shocking. It’s when the film hits its final stretch, however, that it moves from rehashing old tropes to blazing its own trail.

Once the 1666 portion of the story comes to a close, we’re brought back to the “present” day in 1994. Equipped with a thorough knowledge of the mythology, as well as an understanding of what drives the Fier curse, Deena and her surviving friends must team up to put an end to it all. This takes everyone back to where it began: the mall. And when our heroes’ plan is put into action, the Fear Street trilogy reaches the level of gleeful horror madness it’s been promising/chasing since the beginning. The finale is a black-lit melee of epic proportions that brings the whole story to a close in an exciting, satisfying way.

As horror grows in estimation and popularity, it’s awesome to see the genre being explored in inventive ways. Horror has always been at the forefront of the novelty exhibition game, and I’m pleased to see this trend continue in the streaming market as well. As for the films themselves, it was so cool to be a witness to something new, even if it’s a remix of something old. Not since Scream has there been a new franchise for teens (and geezers like me) to follow along with in real time, and the Fear Street trilogy carries this torch well. It’s given us some new slasher iconography, a killer crop of young performers, and a contemporary thematic structure to ensure that the imagery endures, as it should. Most importantly it’s put a spotlight on Leigh Janiak, who has proven to be an exciting genre voice worth following.


Directed by Leigh Janiak

Written by Phil Graziadei, Leigh Janiak, Kate Tefry, R.L. Stine

Starring Kiana Madeira, Ashley Zuckerman, Gillian Jacobs, Darrell Britt-Gibson

Rated R, Runtime 114 minutes

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