Fear Street Part One: 1994 is a horror movie that was released in 2021. It is set in a town called Shadyside where multiple murders are the norm. Every other day, Sheriff Nick Goode is on the news talking about the five, six or seven people who were murdered. The movie starts off with multiple murders in the Shadyside mall.
Many people also believe that the reason for the murders is because a witch named Sarah Fier was hung a long time ago, and her soul is now out seeking revenge against the town. This movie has all the elements of a classic horror movie. Creepy town, dark vibes, violent murders, even the name “Shadyside” that implies that nothing ‘good’ happens there. We have cliched characters like Deena, the bold, but broody and depressed protagonist who is part of the school band and doesn’t believe in ghosts or anything paranormal; she thinks that the murders are happening because people of the town are unhappy and are seeking a way out. We also have the generic blonde character, Samantha “Sam” Fraser, a stock cheerleader character with no personality, who seems to be the target of the witch. But what I was pleasantly surprised by was that Sam and Deena were dating. Unfortunately, they broke up when Sam moved to the neighbouring town, Sunnyvale, the binary opposite of Shadyside where everything is happy and good and the kids have bright futures and nothing bad like murders to deal with, except jocks and bullies, but that’s just high school. Of course, they get together by the end of the movie, and I’m glad because I think they make a cute couple. Deena’s brother Josh is a computer nerd with a morbid fascination for the deaths in the town (he even has a murder board). Her other friends are Kate (cheerleader with a side business of selling drugs) and Simon (the sole financially provider for his family), who get involved with the witch and so, have to find a way to stay alive and save Sam from the witch.
What I like about Sam and Deena’s relationship is that it is presented to us as any other high school relationship. Deena is jealous that Sam is now dating a boy on the football team, and this is followed by a decent amount of fighting, screaming, and mud-slinging, which indicates that it’s not the healthiest of relationships, but that they’re trying. They both are not used to dating girls or dating altogether and Sam’s mother isn’t happy that her daughter is dating Deena either. I like that this movie assigns the usual broody, depressed yet cute boy with curly hair character trope to a girl, while still maintaining the jealous, toxic and possessive traits the character is usually associated with. And Deena is not white, which I appreciate. Maybe they could’ve taken it up a notch and spruced up the blonde character. But the movie doesn’t shy away from showing them making out or showing their relationship as a normal part of adolescence, for girls to explore their sexuality and start dating. So I’m not complaining.
What I also want to acknowledge is the witch. It’s the classic trope of a woman being accused of witchcraft in the 1600s and being hung for it, only for her soul to linger in the land and cause murders. There is also a poem referenced in the movie that talks about how the witch will follow you until you’re dead and that she turns good men into her slaves. I think it’s problematic that men are inherently associated with being “good” until the wicked woman who is so obviously a witch corrupts them even though it was a man who had actually sentenced her to death and had her hung. I did not like the witch trope, because women are always accused of being most capable of evil while the handsome, cishet sheriff is out to solve the mystery and stop the murders.
Another thing I noticed about the movie, was that most, if not all, of the songs, played in the background had something to do with sex. There is also a scene where the protagonists are making out while promising safety to each other. And it was filmed like any other sex scene, a lot of groping and touching and kissing, like teenagers who haven’t had a lot of experience. But I wonder what is it about fear and death that invites sex? Is it that the sex is more exciting that way? Or that maybe it’s a way to establish some sense of normalcy and pleasure in the midst of chaos and uncertainty? I’m not too sure. But it’s a movie about teenagers and I’m no one to make moral judgements here.
Overall, I enjoyed watching this movie. It’s a good pick while you’re browsing through Netflix searching for what to watch next. It was the right amount of scary and creepy and has a good amount of gore and blood, although some of the characters are cliched and the plot is predictable, but that’s part of the charm. It’s nothing new, but it’s done well. Although it’s titled Fear Street, I personally did not experience much fear, and the murders are not concentrated in one street and happen all over the town. The death scenes are explicit and the movie has a lot of blood, so if you’re sensitive to that type of content, please be warned. There are two other parts, both available on Netflix and I look forward to watching them both.