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Fear Street Part 3: 1666 (Movie Review)

Fear Street Part 3: 1666 (Movie Review)
7 10

PLOT: An attempt to bring an end to the Shadyside curse in 1994 gives one teen a first person perspective on how it all began in 1666.

REVIEW: Director Leigh Janiak's R.L. Stine-inspired Fear Street trilogy has introduced us to the concept of a cursed town called Shadyside, where every once in a while the spirit of an evil witch named Sarah Fier will possess people and cause them to go on a killing spree. This had been happening for over three hundred years by the time of the first film, which was set in 1994. In the second film, we got a flashback to a killing spree that occurred in 1978. At the heart of these films is the relationship between 1994 teens Deena (Kiana Madeira) and Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), which was already troubled enough even before Sam became the latest Shadysider to get possessed. When the knowledge Deena had was combined with the information provided by '78 killing spree survivor C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs), it appeared that they had found the way to end the curse and get Sam back to normal... but when Deena tried to carry out the plan, she found herself zapped back in time to 1666, seeing the world through the eyes of Sarah Fier in the year the curse began.

I was on board for the first two films without hesistation, as slashers set in 1994 and 1978 are right up my alley - and I was even hyped for '78. But I was always uncertain about this trilogy capper, because the story of a witch tormenting a small village in 1666 is one of the least appealing concepts they could have thrown my way. That just doesn't sound like my idea of entertainment. Yes, I thought The Witch was a good movie, but it's not something I'm going to go back to again and again like I do the slashers that were in the DNA of the first two Fear Streets. Thankfully, Fear Street Part 3: 1666 was not the snoozefest I was worried it could be, as Janiak and her collaborators delivered a story that was much more interesting than I thought the story of what happened in 1666 would be.

Fear Street Part 3: 1666 Kiana Madeira Leigh Janiak

A clever decision was made for the casting of this one, as the town of Shadyside in the distant past is populated by familiar faces from the previous films. Just like Michael J. Fox played Marty McFly's great-great-grandfather in Back to the Future Part III, this film is packed with look-alike ancestors played by Ashley Zukerman, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Jordana Spiro, and others - including Olivia Scott Welch as Hannah Miller, whose relationship with Sarah Fier mirrors the relationship between Deena and Sam. The period setting makes it seem like we're far removed from the events of 1994, but the casting and the characters make sure this film is still in line with the others. It definitely helps that Kiana Madeira is playing Sarah Fier in the film, since we're seeing the story play out from Deena's perspective as she is shown this glimpse into the past. The characters around her see the face of "real Sarah Fier" actress Elizabeth Scopel, but the viewer is seeing Madeira, so we're following someone we already know, just in a different role. This approach brings to mind Quantum Leap.

Janiak assembled a great cast for this trilogy, and I felt that Kiana Madeira was given her best chance to shine in this final film. She had strong material to work with in the previous films as well, but she does some really terrific work as Sarah-Fier-looking-like-Deena.

Fears that the characters of 1666 would be stuffy and dull were set aside as soon as the young folks of Shadyside got together to drink applejack and trip on special berries, so I was able to let go of my resistance to the setting and get wrapped up in the story as Shadyside begins to fall apart, strange things start happening, characters start dying off, and we learn that the circumstances that led to Sarah Fier's hanging for making a deal with the devil were not as straightforward as people have been saying they were for centuries.

Fear Street Part 3: 1666 Michael Chandler Leigh Janiak

1666 has twists and turns that should not be spoiled for viewers who are invested in seeing how this story is going to be wrapped up, and I will keep its secrets. I was so reluctant to watch a movie set in 1666, it does mean something when I say that Janiak found a way to tell this story in a way that held my attention and won me over. I will also say that I really liked the way the movie was structured, as the first hour is quite dark and tragic, but things explode into more colorful, exciting fun in the second half.

I had my doubts along the way, but now that I have seen the full trilogy, I feel that Janiak pulled off something really cool with these Fear Street movies. Watching the films week to week was a fun ride, and Part 3 brings it all to a satisfying conclusion. I would like to see more Fear Street movies in the future, and R.L. Stine has certainly provided enough source material to keep these going for a long time, but the future films might have trouble living up to this "trilogy event". 

Fear Street Part 3: 1666 is now available to watch on the Netflix streaming service. I'm giving this movie a 7, in line with our ratings of the other two movies, but I would give the trilogy as a whole an 8.
 

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