MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Horror/ Stars: Kiana Madeira, Elizabeth Scopel, Ashley Zukerman, Ted Sutherland, Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Darrell Britt-Gibson, Fred Hechinger, Julia Rehwald, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Jordana Spiro, Jordyn DiNatale, Jeremy Ford, Randy Havens, Matthew Zuk, Lacey Camp, Charlene Amoia, Mark Ashworth, Ryan Simpkins, Emily Brobst, Gracen Newton/Runtime: 114 minutes
In the wake of giving moviegoers over the past couple of weeks, a dynamic duo of equally engaging and terrifying outings in the slasher subgenre, Netflix finally heads for home with the release this week of the final installment in their Fear Street trilogy entitled Fear Street Part 3: 1666. Yet whereas the first movie was a throwback to horror films of the 90s especially Scream, and the 2nd one was a wonderful tribute to such iconic summer camp horror films as Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp, for this final (?) chapter, co-scribe/ film helmer Leigh Janiak takes us all the way back in time to the series of events that started this whole nightmare. The result is a riveting saga of witchcraft, demonic summoning, and paranoia that not only serves as a wonderful resolution to what came before, but also as a film that is riveting and chilling in its own right as well.
The plot is as follows: Picking up where the 2nd installment left off, we see our heroine Deena is in the process of returning the corpse of infamous witch Sarah Fier with her lopped off hand only for things to go slightly awry and have Deena head back into time. With this film however, we’re not getting a melancholic recollection from someone who survived the ordeal. Rather, we are getting a full-blown immersive style flashback that puts our heroine firmly in the perspective of Sarah Fier herself. To that end, it is the long-gone year 1666 in a little colony by the name of Union. A place incidentally that will one day turn into 2 distinct towns known as Shadyside and Sunnyvale respectively. Yet very much like the teens of today and the first 2 movies, we see that Fier and her friends are teens who are hard workers, but even harder partiers as evidenced by how much they are looking forward to going to a bonfire at midnight with a colonial equivalent to alcohol and some “unusual berries” that basically operate as the 17th century equivalent to ecstasy. Yet beyond all this merriment, we also see that Sarah is able to find love as well in the form of having some alone time with the daughter of the town reverend. Yet the next morning, we see that not only does Miss Fier have quite the late 1600s hangover, but also that her village is overrun with calamity and fear due to freaky things starting to occur. Thus it isn’t long before you find yourself asking could it be that none other than ol’ Scratch himself has descended upon this peaceful little colony and could the moment that Sarah had be the root of this evil? Meanwhile we also get a chance to see the endgame of the narrative started all the way back in the first film begin to at long last start to form and a final showdown of sorts start to gloriously emerge…
Now it is worth noting that the film’s helmer does a wonderfully ingenious job of bringing back quite a few people from the first two films to show up in some capacity or another in this film’s first half. By doing so, we are able to see that this serves as a sinisterly ingenious hint that the majority of those who suffered as a result of the curse striking in both 1978 and 1994 respectively possibly have literal blood ties to those who went through it that very first time. More than that though, it also permits this film’s talented director to get more out of a top-flight cast whose winning ways still are as endearing as ever even though they are clearly not long for this world. Yet perhaps the most ingenious stroke of brilliance this film offers us in terms of casting is permitting Madeira to also portray Fier even though she is usually played by an actress named Elizabeth Scopel. Yet by letting Madeira play the part in a way that feels like something straight out of Quantum Leap, our bond and care for Deena is able to transcend time. In the same vein we see that the LGBT love story between Fier and the pastor’s daughter is given an extra spark due to our time with Deena and Sam thus providing a possible hint toward Sarah’s motivation for Deena to see her story through her eyes.
Now right off the bat in the very first film, that despicable ailment known as homophobia was one that chose to sneakily slither around through the various pathways of the romance between Sam and Deena courtesy of glares, encrypted yet obvious dialogue, and the bare minimum of slurs necessary. In this one though, we see that not only is Fier viewed as a freak of nature for her choice of romantic partner, but both girls are then publicly shamed for something turning their community horrifically upside down. However, just like in 1994, the only grown-up willing to give our heroine the benefit of the doubt is a man by the name of Solomon. A man who also happens to be related to Sheriff Nick Goode from the first one. However, you must remember that Nick did stab Ziggy in the back by not backing her up like he said he would and suffice it to say, without saying too much, that’s not exactly a one and done occurrence as far as this family is concerned. Suffice it to say then that Fear Street Part 3: 1666 doesn’t just finally pull back the curtain and give us the complete tale of Sarah Fier. Rather, it also pulls back the curtain to showcase that there is a significant amount of social commentary at the core of this story as well. Indeed, this was never meant to just be a series of horror films about a witch. Rather, the film’s helmer and her phenomenally talented writer’s room were taking us by the hand and walking with us into a blood-soaked maze that has quite a bit to say about oppressing those who are different at its core. Indeed those who live in Shadyside aren’t just simply unlucky and/or destined not to make something of themselves in a way that doesn’t involve butchering one another. Instead, I will simply say that there is a much darker force at work here and it is that component of the film that made the beautifully diverse casting choices here not forced, but rather integral to the film itself. Indeed Janiak made the specific choice to have our eyes in this world be a heroine who is LGBT and whose portrayer is of First Nations ancestry who simply has no desire to play on the same playing field as the world around her. From there we see that our film trilogy’s helmer made the bold choice to support this wonderfully diverse heroine with people who either don’t have much presence in a lot of horror films or who are bumped off so quickly that we don’t get the chance to know them as people. As a result, we see that film helmer Janiak has made a truly inspiring horror trilogy for present day audiences even as they all work as delightful throwbacks to past endeavors in the world of horror cinema.
Now although the previous 2 entries did have some detractors who were quick to point out just how much they pushed copious amounts of nostalgia, cliché, and nostalgic musical throwback, I was one reviewer who didn’t have a problem with that; in fact I thought these elements gifted audiences with a fun stroll through older, memory-filled streets before giving us the chance to go somewhere we haven’t been before. In this one though, that nostalgic vibe finds itself torn apart by the passage of time courtesy of a wonderful production team taking us to a world that feels unfamiliar yet familiar at the same time. Indeed echoes of what has come before still permeate in this one through familiar mannerisms, images, narrative aspects, and the fact that 98% of the cast has been in one or both of the films. As a result, the colonial period of time and the perils that are part and parcel with that time period are pinned down with the cast being more familiar to us through their work from the movies set in 1994 and 1978. So, when the drunken ancestor of the snide jock from the first film (played by the same actor no less) begins fearmongering with talk of Satan and the wild women who assure disaster, it really is not that difficult to comprehend how an individual like this might pop up in the world around us today. Yet the story does not conclude in 1666. I say this because following the half of a film journey back in time, we (along with our heroine) are back in 1994 and left to deal with one heck of a reveal and a looming conflict that requires a team and an odyssey back to the mall. Yes as this film’s 1666 and 1994 storylines intersect, the pace does suffer a little bit, but that actually makes sense. This is because the movie goer, like the main character, have a lot they need to come to grips with it and not a lot of time to do so. Thus take a moment, breathe, and get set for a final throwdown involving our heroes and a vicious group of murderers. Yes things do get a wee bit messy from a narrative experience, but it’s difficult to be really miffed about this when the creative forces involved in this movie are giving us such a wonderful and creative final throwdown. Sure it’s indulgent, but it’s also refreshing and well-executed.
All in all the more immersed into this horror-tinged rabbit hole I have gone, the more difficult it has also been to truly separate just where one film ends and another begins. Indeed as this last movie really showcases, these movies were meant to be seen as one really long and epic saga across time that weaves together a collection of stories about some women who had the guts to be distinct, who had a dream, and who were willing to bend the rules created by people who could never comprehend what they were thinking or how they were feeling. Thus when viewed back to back to back, this is one trilogy that is more like a road map to uncover the terror that still scares those who are constantly being put down time and time again. It is also with that in mind that Fear Street Part 3: 1666 is able to be a truly effective final jigsaw piece that, when put into place, finally makes everything clear. As its’ own film, it is wonderfully engaging and full to the brim with horror, paranoid, and a jaw-dropping surprise or 2. As the end of this trilogy, it is riveting, terrifying, and entertaining to say nothing of not being just a resolution, but also an opportunity for a new day to finally take hold…..On a scale of 1-5 I give Fear Street Part 3: 1666 a solid 3.5 out of 5.