Netflix film review: Fear Street Part 3: 1666
Written by Arthur
Rating Fear Street’s thrilling final chapter is a crafty, satisfying subversion of the classic slasher formula.
The third and final instalment of the Fear Street trilogy directed by Leigh Janiak and based on RL Stine’s books is a 17th-century witchcraft trial that riffs on The Crucible and Robert Eggers’ The Witch. It gets stuck straight into the muck and graft of a small rural community with an intense opener depicting the birthing of seven piglets, and introducing Sarah Fier (mostly played by Kiana Madeira, with an appearance from Elizabeth Scopel) as a capable farmhand. Similarly to American Horror Story, the film reintroduces actors from the 1994 chapter as different characters.
Sarah and her brother Henry (Benjamin Flores Jr) breed pigs in the small town of Union where everything is swell, until Sarah and the pastor’s daughter, Hannah (Olivia Scott Welch), vocally reject the advances of a local man and are then spied making out in the woods during a trippy moon party. It’s not long before the residents grab their pitchforks and torches after fake news about women lying with the Devil spreads around town like wildfire.
Where the film goes from here may offer a predictable answer to the true nature of the curse of Shadyside, but it ties it to its 90s setting with crafty bravura and a satisfying conclusion commenting on social inequality, and the trust and faith placed in a system designed to fail the 99 per cent. While the film delights in a delicious takedown of a monster who has always been about, it also looks to the future at who has capitalised on and thrived in the digital age.
For this segment, the actors adopt (Irish?) accents that are slightly off-putting, but Janiak sets an atmosphere of dread and confusion with nifty camera work and close-up shots that are effective and immersive. The copious amounts of blood splatter and gory special effects play out in sinister style and once again the young cast do brilliant work. In the thrilling and artfully directed finale, Benjamin Flores Jr and Kiana Madeira offer all the feels with emotive performances, while Darrell Britt-Gibson flexes his comedic chops and Gillian Jacobs literally flexes her muscles.
Leigh Janiak and her writing team have crafted a teen horror trilogy that wears its bloody heart on its sleeve, giving its unforgettable characters adorable and hilarious moments, and it’s all the better for it. In particular, the sapphic love story between Deena and Sam is wrapped up nicely with a lovely callback involving cheeseburgers and the Pixies’ Gigantic.
Fear Street 1666 may be the best of the bunch, or maybe the preceding films will play better on second viewing when framed in the context that the conclusion offers. Either way, when played back-to-back, these three supernatural horrors pack a brutal punch and offer contemporary subversions of the classic slasher formula.