Netflix has concocted a horror event for summer 2021, bringing us a trilogy of new horror movies, all interconnected, all rated 18, all set to be released this July, and all hopefully not as forgettable as this first entry is.
'Fear Street Park 1: 1994' is set in the city of Shadyside, where we encounter a group of teens who discover that the brutal murders which have been occurring in their town for centuries may all be connected. It's up to Deena (Kiana Madeira), her ex-girlfriend Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), and her two friends Simon (Fred Hechinger) and Kate (Julia Rehwald) to solve the mystery - all while escaping the clutches of the sinister killers who are on the loose.
Based on the 'Fear Street' book franchise by R. L. Stine, who also happens to be the creator of 'Goosebumps', this is a series of books most children or teenagers would have grown up reading during the '90s and '00s. If not one, then chances are you read the other. All three entries in the trilogy have been adapted for Netflix by director Leigh Janiak ('Scream: The TV Series'), and this first part is a horror movie that doesn't pull off its attempt at good old-fashioned horror.
One gets the feeling that since the people who would have read these stories are now adults, this is the avenue the movie attempts to go in. However, given that our main protagonists are teenagers, and very much look so, it feels rather stunted and unable to shake off the child-like nature of it all. The dialogue is cheesy and cliché ("I'll kill you" is said numerous times) and the killer is just a skeletal version of Ghostface from the 'Scream' franchise. Don't be fooled by that 18s certificate, as it's only there due to how bloody it all gets.
Even though there are mass murderers running about the town, there's no real feeling of danger for these teens. In typical horror b-movie style, everyone else is expendable except for our frantic five. It's not until the climax towards the end is there a moment where one feels the horror build up to a crescendo - and to be fair, it delivers a damn fine climax. The opening sequence with 'Stranger Things' star Maya Hawke is another moment worth mentioning - but everything else in between the beginning and the end is rather forgettable.
'Fear Street Part 1: 1994' isn't a particularly bad horror movie - slasher fans should get a kick out of it - but it just underwhelms with its attempt. It leans heavily on '90s movies as inspiration (lots of phones ringing and doorbells going off), which might have worked back then, but horror has come on leaps and bounds since then. There are no jump-scares to be found, and when you watch a horror, you want to be scared - a basic aspect which this does not deliver.
Given that this is 'Part 1' of the trilogy being released by Netflix this July, here's hoping the following two sequels can deliver a more compelling experience.
'Fear Street Part 1: 1994' hits Netflix this Friday, July 2. Watch out for 'Part 2' and 'Part 3' which arrive on Netflix on July 7 and July 16.