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Fear Street Part 1 1994 review: Netflix slasher trilogy starts strong with a must-see film

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 trailer released on Netflix

Netflix are trying something different this year. This week marks the release of Fear Street Part 1: 1994, the first of three films set in Goosebumps author RL Stine’s fictional town of Shadyside. Later this month the story of the town’s murders continue in Fear Street Part 2: 1978 and Fear Street Part 3: 1666. The introduction to the series in 1994, however, is fantastic.

Deena (played by Kiana Madeira) is heartbroken after breaking up with her girlfriend, Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), and is struggling to get over the failed relationship.

Her disappointment crescendos when she sees Sam with a new boyfriend at a local football game between her school and their rivals from neighbouring town Sunnyvale. She doesn’t have too long to worry though, as a murderous high-schooler sends the entire town into chaos.

Before long, it is up to Sam, Deena, her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr), and their friends Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger) to figure out the mystery behind the vicious Skull Mask Killer that pursues them.

What follows is a gripping look into the horror genre, complete with a number of cliches that are treated with respect rather than obligation.

It quickly becomes evident that Fear Street Part 1: 1994 wears its inspirations on its sleeve, creating something fans of the scene will love.

READ MORE: Freaky review: Vince Vaughn captures the heart of this gore-filled hit

Fear Street Part 1 1994 review

Fear Street Part 1 1994 review: The first entry into the trilogy is great fun (Image: NETFLIX)

Killers of all kinds are given their spotlight in the movie, all of which have direct inspirations no doubt taken from some of the greats.

The Skull Mask Killer almost seems ripped straight from the Scream franchise, as the frantic murderer wields nothing more than a serrated blade to slaughter his victims.

Meanwhile, the supernatural nature of the killers that follow the gang feels a little more like the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 does feel somewhat different, though. It has that sort of Netflix sheen draped over it. The almost overuse of ’90s music adds to the overall sickly-sweet pastiche, and the comparisons to Netflix’s heavy-hitter Stranger Things are endless – mostly in a good way.

Fear Street Part 1 1994 review maya hawke

Fear Street Part 1 1994 review: Maya Hawke’s role is short but sweet (Image: NETFLIX)

Most notably, however, Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is a really good looking movie. Between moments of bright neon and dark forests, the style and direction of each scene are beautiful. Real care and effort have been put into this picture. 

The aforementioned echoes of classic horror films are of course tied together with a healthy dose of violence, blood, gore, and brutality.

With that said, there are not a lot of examples of pulpy death scenes that horror fans have come to expect.

In fact, most of the film’s time is spent trying to figure out the backstory of the Fear Street witch, Sarah Fier.

Fear Street Part 1 1994 review

Fear Street Part 1 1994 review: The supernatural plot is enticing (Image: NETFLIX)

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Considering the film is billed as a neon-clad slasher flick, the final product doesn’t reflect that exactly.

Despite this, the haunting tale of a long-forgotten local witch is expanded upon further with stories of murderous teenagers in Shadyside throughout the ages (no doubt nods to the upcoming films, 1978 and 1666) – and this entire portion of Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is really interesting.

While the overall plot of the movie is enticing, the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. Some lines prompt vigorous eye-rolls and others beget amnesia. Combine some of this unavailing dialogue with a dull and staggered will-they-won’t-they relationship, and you have the worst parts of the film.

In spite of these shortcomings, most of the film’s plot has an indelible pace that really holds its own.

That is, until its last major scenes.

Fear Street Part 1 1994 review

Fear Street Part 1 1994 review: The film looks fantastic throughout (Image: NETFLIX)

The final 20-or-so minutes of Fear Street Part 1: 1994 are dedicated to setting up the film’s already-shot sequel, Fear Street Part 2: 1978.

Ultimately, this is totally fine. Viewers will only have to wait a week for their next instalment, but it does give a bit of an unwanted peek behind the curtain. It makes the entire experience feel like a marketing ploy by Netflix (which, it obviously is, but this is where the seams start to show the most).


Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is a thrilling slasher film for the Stranger Things generation. Extra effort has been put into the dark and mysterious backstory of the town and the characters themselves, rather than cliched “horror” tropes of the genre. The result is a film that feels fresh, thrilling, and has a passable dose of the genre’s required moments. For the most part, the dialogue isn’t spectacular, and will probably leave viewers cringing – but isn’t that all part of the charm? Ultimately, fans will be dying to see the next entry to the Fear Street trilogy. 

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is out now.

Fear Street Part 2: 1978 hits Netflix on July 9, 2021. 

This post originally appeared on Daily Express