Like fresh guts sewn into an old skeleton, the “Street of Fear” trilogy is a new creature. The three films that make up the event, which air consecutive Fridays on Netflix, cross the line between a weekly television and movie series. This Great Guignol an ambitious experiment For the streamer and mostly successful: “Fear Street,” an intriguing and underrated mini-franchise, plays as if it meets “Stranger Things” with “Scream,” built on a supernatural premise that’s solid enough to sustain interest and suspense for nearly six hours.
Adapted from RL Stine’s books, the “Fear Street” movies take place side by side in the suburbs. Shadyside is boring and moody, full of cynical kids who work hard and play more. Nearby, a golden glow falls on the mighty Sunnyvale, Shadyside’s wealthier, more curious neighbor. General malady divides towns. But there is a darker pattern at play. Every few decades, Shadyside is the site of a mass murder, and each time, the murderer is a seemingly stable resident and suddenly explodes.
“Part One: 1994” opens with such a massacre. In a spooky after-hours shopping mall, we meet our first victim, Heather (Maya Hawke), who makes an impression although she didn’t survive for long. The story follows the trilogy’s protagonist, Deena (Kiana Madeira, with a bite), through a painful separation from a cynical high school student, Sam (Olivia Scott Welch). Bitter, but lingeringly sensitive, Deena soon discovers that a zombie horde is after her ex. And when efforts to involve the Sunnyside police — including the arrogant Sheriff Goode (Ashley Zukerman) — fail, Deena vows to protect Sam. Nerd little brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) and some of his friends Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger) intervene and intervene.
The zombie code of conduct of the “Street of Fear” universe is not particularly consistent. Sometimes just a trace of blood is enough to allow threats to sniff out their prey and pounce on it. In other scenes, it takes a long time for them to pursue their teenage goals—say, long enough for a couple of exes to make up and have sex. The forces behind the zombie revival are more methodical. Deena discovers that the undead killers are Shadyside’s deceased mass murderers. Then there’s the 17th century witch, Sarah Fier, who has their bodies and orders them to attack from beyond the grave. Why Sarah has held a grudge against Shadyside for centuries is one of the mysteries that powers Deena’s journey.
Leigh Janiak, who directed the trilogy and co-wrote the three screenplays, masterfully adapted Stine’s stories for the screen. Using lots of fun genre tropes, Janiak brings a stylized energy to movies. The motifs accompany clear references to classic horror movies, such as when Simon talks about a survival strategy he learned from “Poltergeist.” The idea he borrowed proved to be a failure, inspiring Deena to declare that her emergencies were “not like in the movies.”
The line points to the audience, but in a way, Deena is right. “Street of Fear” feels different. The trilogy avoids the gloomy sobriety of recent horror hits like “Bird Box” and “A Quiet Place” or the nihilism of the “The Purge” series. Shadyside and Sunnyvale represent polar opposites, but “Street of Fear” is not an allegory about suburban privilege adorned with blood and courage. What’s more, it’s multicolored blood and nostalgia, as told by an endearing cast of young rebels.
These strengths are best illustrated in “Part Two: 1978,” the strongest of the trilogy. “Part One” is brimming with ’90s creations like grunge outfits and Pixies mixtapes, while “Part Two” takes a sweet trip to a summer at Camp Nightwing. While campers wearing short shorts gather in their cabin bunks, the counselors hook up to the smoke pot just a few years old and the soundtrack of The Runaways.cherry bomb”
This part of the story focuses on two sisters who spend a summer at Nightwing: Ziggy (Sadie Sink), a cynical misfit camper, and elderly Cindy (Emily Rudd), a cocky, type-A counselor. Think “Wet Hot American Summer” infused with Macabre. This place gets particularly spooky after the sun goes down, and a murderer—again, a cursed Shadysider—turns the color war into a red rage. Carnage and a series of close calls follow, but the change in scenery ensures that “Part Two” never feels like a clone of “Part One.” Players help: As Cindy’s co-advisor Alice, the combined abilities of Sink, Rudd, and Ryan Simpkins raise the tension a few notches.
The latest installment, “Chapter Three: 1666,” pedals back to even more ancient times and brings us to the village of Sarah Fier. In a stage drama surprise, many of the actors in “Chapter One” and “Two” return with new roles from the 17th century, colonial rags and period talk that no one has quite got. Here, there’s less to keep the action going, and devoid of pop artifacts, lingo or fashion trends, Janiak struggles to recreate the gassy and playful tone she achieved in previous films. It does not matter. There are nasty mysteries to unravel, and with “Part Three” you feel safe following these survivors wherever they go.
Street of Fear Part One: 1994
Rated R. Run time: 1 hour 47 minutes. Watch on Netflix.
Street of Fear Part Two: 1978
Rated R. Run time: 1 hour 49 minutes. Watch on Netflix.
Alley of Fear Part Three: 1666
Rated R. Run time: 1 hour 52 minutes. Watch on Netflix.