[‘FEAR STREET PART 1: 1994’ Review] a gruesome delight that’s worth the stab

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

FEAR STREET PART ONE: 1994

Rated R, 107 minutes.
Director: Leigh Janiak
Cast: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger and Maya Hawke

Available Friday to stream exclusively on Netflix.

Kick off your weekend plans with easily the most fun title releasing this week, Fear Street Part One: 1994.

It’s the sly and bloody delightful first chapter of a three-week horror event inspired by R.L. Stine’s hit horror books. The Netflix adapted trilogy drops viewers into three different periods across 300 years, beginning in an era filled with a lot of teen spirit and rewinding it to 1978 (releasing on July 9) and 1666 (on July 16). Expect an interactive mystery, a hip soundtrack, and amusing characters who are to die for.

Part One takes place in the fictional town of Shadyside, Ohio, and centers on a group of teens (including Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, and Fred Hechinger). The friends discover that the terrifying events that have haunted their town for centuries may all be connected to the same source of evil—and they may be the next target.

Filmmaker Leigh Janiak, who directs all three parts, spikes this dead-teenager fest with an energy that takes you back to the warm feels of Clueless and Scream (with a heavier lean on the latter with its slice-and-dice antics). The colorful lighting, Stranger Things-like polish, and nostalgic flair (AOL Instant Messenger, anyone?) are handled with grace. Aside from a few too many needle drops, it doesn’t shove its titular era too much in our faces to say, “Hey, remember this?” 

Janiak gives more focus to her characters (and their dynamics) while also creating an authentically spooky atmosphere that carries until its splattering finale. You’ll jump, smile, and be grossed out—everything that makes a highly satisfying piece of slasher mayhem.

Grade: B+

Official Trailer:

A Sneak Peek at the First 5 Minutes:

The Fear Street Trilogy Trailer:

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.