James Jay Edwards

Fear Street Part 3: 1666 Brings It All Home

(Fear Street Part 3: 1666, courtesy Netflix)

James Jay Edwards reviews Fear Street Part 3: 1666, the finale of the teen horror film series directed by Leigh Janiak, inspired by the R.L. Stine Fear Street books. (Netflix

 

For the past few weeks, we’ve been following along with the Netflix adaptation of the R.L. Stine young-adult series Fear Street. [Read reviews for Fear Street Part 1: 1994 and Fear Street Part 2: 1978.] This week, it wraps up with the third installment, Fear Street Part 3: 1666.

Fear Street Part 3: 1666 takes the audience back to the 17th century and shows the origin story of the witch that has been possessing people and killing kids in the other two movies. When a series of strange and unsettling events befall the village that sits on the land where Shadyside will be located 300-some years later, the townspeople blame it all on a young girl named Sarah Fier (played by Kiana Madeira, the Sacred Lies actress who also plays Deena in Part 1). Of course, there’s much more to the story than that.

 

(Fear Street Part 3: 1666, theatrical release poster, courtesy Netflix)

As with the rest of the trilogy, Fear Street Part 3: 1666 was written by director Leigh Janiak and her writing partner Phil Graziadei, but for this entry, they are joined in the writer’s room by Stranger Things writer Kate Trefry. It doesn’t lean as hard into the stylistic and narrative aesthetics of the setting’s time period as the first two movies, so the nostalgic fun is pretty much gone. As are the awesome musical needle drops. And while it does still have the brutality and gore, it’s not as genuinely disturbing as most modern folk horror movies such as The Witch or Midsommar. So, it’s folk horror-light.

Fear Street Part 3: 1666 is shot and presented as a period piece, but it’s betrayed by its dialogue and acting. And the use of previous actors for just about all of the roles (not just Sarah Fier, which kind of makes sense in context) is hokey. There’s a vibe about it that is not unlike that of a high school play set in the 17th century. And it’s pretty much all Sarah running from her persecutors, which is an escape that, as we know from the first two movies, isn’t successful.

 

(Fear Street Part 3: 1666, courtesy Netflix)

While Fear Street Part 3: 1666 is the weakest of the movies from a pure fun perspective, it is a necessary chapter, as it gives valuable backstory that applies to the first two movies. The mystery of Fear Street is solved in reverse, so all of the questions raised by the more modern entries are answered here in the 17th century.

And it ends the whole shebang on a high note, as about halfway through things jump back to 1994 (there’s even a title card – Fear Street 1994: Part 2) to wrap everything up and provide some closure to the series. This section of the film brings back the neon-soaked fun of the first movie. It also brings back those killer nineties needle drops. It does keep some of the hokeyness, but the modern setting (and stylish nineties tone) is forgiving, so it’s all more, well, believable. And, of course, with over five hours of our lives invested at this point, we viewers want to find out what ultimately happens to these kids.

 

(Fear Street Part 3: 1666, courtesy Netflix)

In the end, the Fear Street trilogy is as advertised: it’s a brutal, edgy multi-part mystery geared towards a young audience that will also interest the older nostalgia seekers. And Fear Street Part 3: 1666 does about as good of a job as it can with a premise that started getting stale at the end of Part 2. It’s the series’ Return of the Jedi – good on its own but paling in comparison to its predecessors.

Fear Street Part 3: 1666 is now streaming on Netflix.

 

 

Check out the podcast Eye On Horror for more with James Jay Edwards, and also features Jonathan Correia and Jacob Davison.

 

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