Prequel, sequel, and standalone story all at the same time. There’s a lot riding on the third film in Leigh Janiak’s Fear Street trilogy. Can it stay true to itself while also wrapping up the events of 1994 and providing further context to 1978? And is it even a Fear Street movie without the constant needle drops and millennial nostalgia-bating?
Picking up where 1978’s bookends left off, Deena (Kiana Madeira) is thrown back in time – Quantum Leap style - to experience life through the eyes of Sarah Fier. Here she’ll learn the cautionary tale of a witch, her lover, and the community that persecutes them both. Naturally, there’s more to Sarah Fier’s story than meets the eye, and what Deena learns may prove key to defeating the witch’s curse, back in 1994.
Like the previous film in the series, 1666 largely stands on its own…. until it doesn’t. It’s the story of a woman, accused of witchcraft, and the small-minded men who would do her harm. The slasher movie vibes are done away with in favour of a darker, more folksy kind of horror. This is still R.L Stine’s Fear Street, though – and feels more like Goosebumps: A Night in Terror Tower than The Witch. Despite the 17th Century setting, everyone still walks and talks like modern teenagers, save for the atrocious Oirish accents the cast have been stuck with.
Still, period horror is a relative rarity, and Janiak uses it to tell a compelling story. It’s the first film in the series with a proper theme – not a particularly original one, granted – and a story which is more than just homages to other, better stuff. This mystery clumsily collides with Deena’s story in 1994, both halves of the film battling for supremacy. On its own, 1666 is probably the strongest film in the trilogy, but when combined with its bookends, it suddenly becomes the most uneven. It’s loaded with painful exposition dumps to justify the jumbled narratives, and a rushed race to the finish line. What a return to 1994 does net us is extra Gillian Jacobs (always a good thing) and a reasonably exciting denouement.
Prequel, sequel, and standalone story all at the same time. Fear Street: 1666 is a movie pulling every witch way, occasionally to its detriment. Regardless, its core story is the strongest of all three, the bookends closing out the trilogy in a fashion that should satisfy most viewers. With 1666, Leigh Janiak closes out our trip to R.L Stine’s Fear Street. It’s been a bumpy, uneven ride, but never anything less than a fun one.