Fear Street Part One: 1994 (2021) Movie Review
Written By: Angela DiLella
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Leigh Janiak
Producers: Peter Chernin, David Ready, and Jenno Topping
Writers: Leigh Janiak and Phil Graziadei, based on the Fear Street book series by R.L. Stine
Date Released: July 2, 2021
Kiana Madeira as Deena
Olivia Scott Welch as Samantha
Julia Rehwald as Kate
Benjamin Flores, Jr. as Josh
Fred Hechinger as Simon
Rating = 4/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
A group of teens finds themselves stalked by the most infamous killers from their town’s past. They are determined to banish them and unravel the mystery of why their town is so cursed, whatever it takes.
Injuries and blood aren’t shied away from at all—in fact, stabbings and slashings are often shown in indulgent glory, sometimes in slow-motion. The climax of the movie explodes into some creative and unexpected executions.
The Grave Review
Fear Street began life as R.L. Stine’s (best known for Goosebumps) teen horror series. Fear Street Part One: 1994 follows a similar formula as many of those books: a group of teens is dealing with a dangerous mystery. In this case, it’s the shadow that hangs over the town that seems to draw serial killers, violence, and any other disaster one could think of. Deena (Kiana Madeira) and company deal with evading their various would-be killers, attempt to figure out why the town of Shadyside is cursed, and then attempt to banish the curse while feeling like real teenagers sucked into an unbelievable, deadly situation. Screenwriters Leigh Janiak and Phil Graziadei seamlessly updated Stine’s series for modern viewing audiences while preserving what made it work so well for the original readers.
The cast across the board does a great job in their roles. They feel like real teens with intwined histories and prior relationships, and their chemistry is spot-on. Even during serious moments when there might be humorous dialogue (accidental or otherwise) or other interludes, it all feels very natural instead of a screenwriter’s attempt at being “down with the kids.” As a result, it’s easy to get invested in the likeable group and it’s more shocking when the inevitable horror movie turns turn on them. A standout for me was Fred Hechinger, who played Simon, as he really captured the kind of goofy teen that I very much was in high school. However, all of the main cast invoked someone I knew in real life going through school, and I suspect that this will be the case for most viewers.
Fear Street Part One: 1994 has kicked the Fear Street three-part series off on the right foot. Just as the main cast sets up a perfect group of kids, the directors really captured the right feel for the movie. The opening scene features what seems to be just another random killer in Shadyside’s long, unfortunate history that establishes the era and what the viewer should be expecting perfectly. It does a good job of scratching older viewers’ nostalgic itch for the nineties and the slashers that were popular then, but I also have no doubt that this movie will have no problem reaching a modern teen audience thanks to the slick updates to the scenarios. The scene-setting (especially the surprisingly good contemporary soundtrack) is thorough but does not become the focus. It is all the backdrop for some effective, and at times surprisingly compelling and visually pleasing, horror. It really feels like something new was brought to the horror table with this film, rather than just being a nostalgia cash-grab.
Fear Street Part One: 1994 does also take the time to pay homage to the book series that inspired it. As it is, the big mystery of the town’s cursed origins appears right now to be following the Fear Street Saga Trilogy with some adaptations to accommodate Deena and her friends’ presence in the origin story. For fans of the books (especially those who read the Saga Trilogy), catching little hints and references is a real treat.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Fear Street Part One: 1994 (2021) four graves out of five graves.
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