For most millennials, R.L. Stine was a huge outlet for kids to appreciate the horror genre. Similar to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, his run with Goosebumps and Fear Street were the perfect gateway drug to adult horror.
While the Goosebumps films were not exactly creative home runs, Netflix is hoping to ramp the R.L. Stine name up with his long-running book anthology Fear Street.
And unlike the Jack Black vehicle Goosebumps, the approach with Fear Street is not child’s play.
Is this a worthy adaptation of R.L. Stine’s work? Here is our Fear Street Part 1: 1994 review.
Fear Street Part 1: 1994 review
Just like the book series, the first film takes place in Shadyside or as a news reporter calls it “Killer Capitol, USA.”
When the film kicks off, a teenager is brutally murdered in a mall. After the killer is taken down, the local high school becomes a playground of fear, mourning, and just like Scream, is oftentimes insincere towards death.
From here, we are introduced to our five main protagonists of the film: Deena (Kiana Madeira) and her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), their neighbors and classmates Kate (Julia Rehwald) and her brother Simon (Fred Hechinger), and Deena’s ex-girlfriend Samantha (Olivia Scott Welch).
At the center of our heroes is Deena, the Sydney Prescott of the film. As we are introduced to these characters, we learn that Deena and Samantha’s relationship had a falling out and now Samantha is dating the unlikable high school jock.
But despite the killer being brought down at the mall, violence in the town begins again by the same costumed murderer – and for some reason, these four high schoolers find themselves at the center of it.
Fear Street Part 1: 1994 plays like one of those musical mash-ups found online where a creative person takes a track from Green Day and uses the vocals from Queen instead.
Here the musical landscape and structure feels like a 90s slasher movie — like Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer — but the vocals are from Stranger Things.
As the film pushes along, the mystery is not who is killing people in the town of Shadyside but more of why. This pushes the slasher film into supernatural territory and gives the first entry an adventurous vibe like Stranger Things.
The only difference here is Millie Bobby Brown might get brutally murdered with a knife.
The casting and characters are a bit on the nose but a lot of fun. If one were to think about it too long, those who live and die are ripped directly from a Kevin Williamson playbook. Yet, somehow, because of Kyle Killen and Phil Graziadei’s screenplay, their love for the characters makes us jolt when one of them is unexpectedly slaughtered.
The only annoying aspect of the 90s approach with Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is that it incorporates that annoying constant jump scare music from those days. For instance, a man sees a cat and one loud note collides through the speaker to trigger a startle reflex. It’s still a tactic used today but it was heavily overused in 90s slasher movies.
What Fear Street Part 1: 1994 proves more than anything is that it’s time for the 1990s to start having its day in film and television. Captain Marvel did a decent job of bringing some nostalgic elements from that decade but Fear Street Part 1 actually feels like a 90s film.
On top of this, the film contains a jukebox of classical hits from that era that plays through the background that will have many viewers opening up Spotify and looking for the soundtrack immediately.
The use of the music does not always flow naturally but not a single person watching will care. At the very least, it’s used more effectively than in Captain Marvel.
Moreover, Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is just an absolutely fun horror experience that will transport a lot of millennials back to their childhoods. Between Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and now this, the classic horror stories from the 90s are finally getting their justified treatments in film and television.
Now, if we can just get a Goosebumps adaptation that actually aims to be somewhat scary while introducing pre-teens to the horror genre.
Should you stream Fear Street Part 1: 1994 on Netflix?
Fear Street Part 1: 1994 feels like it was directly ripped from a 1990s R.L. Stine book and splashed on a cinematic canvas. It contains all the throwback elements of a 90s slasher movie and gives them a supernatural twist.
Between the love the script has for its characters and the nostalgic feel and approach to the first entry, Fear Street Part 1 is a solid start to the trilogy that honors the legacy of R.L. Stine.
Stay tuned for our reviews of Part 2 and 3 in the weeks ahead.
Fear Street Part 1:1994 is now streaming on Netflix.