[Movie Review] FEAR STREET Part 3: 1666
Courtesy of Netflix
Editor’s Note: This review is mostly spoiler-free. 

Well, gang, it looks like we have reached the conclusion of the FEAR STREET TRILOGY, and the final part has a lot to tackle. The elements introduced in Part 1 and Part 2 in the trilogy needed to be addressed. And, ultimately, answers, as well as closure, needed to be reached for both characters and viewers. Writer/Director Leigh Janiak set a tremendous challenge in keeping things as neat, yet as entertaining as possible to maintain that humor and connection with the viewer. From this reviewer’s standpoint, all of those boxes were hit and then some. While the ending credits provide an opening for Netflix (or any other company) if they decide to explore the realm of Fear Street further, FEAR STREET PART 3: 1666 is wrapped tightly and concisely enough that viewers could just leave off where the trilogy ends perfectly fine.

PART 3 starts up right where Part 2 left viewers with that cliffhanger, where Deena gets mentally transported back to where it all began in 1666, when Shadyside and Sunnyvale were as one in the Union settlement. While the settlement may refer to itself as Union, there is a clear divide between its citizens. Those who are different or do not adhere exactly to the Lord’s good word are cast a side-eye or treated rudely. This is apparent as we follow Sarah Fier (Kiana Madeira) walk through the village. Seeing these contrasts provides the viewer an easy way to connect the dots from one century to the next, picking up clues across the generations back to the blueprint Janiak laid down in Part 1.

As I am aiming to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, I’ll refrain from speaking much more about the plot. Trust me, there’s plenty that goes on in FEAR STREET PART 3: 1666. Shifting gears, the decision made by the team to carry over some of the cast from previous parts is a smart one. It reinforces the thought process we’ve seen from Shadysiders prior about how no one can truly escape the grip of the town. By utilizing cast members from the previous installments, it verifies that this curse has a multi-generational impact dating back from the beginning. An ambitious and intelligent move. The one complaint I do have, and it is purely a personal preference thing,  is that there was a lack of cohesion with this particularly difficult regional period-specific accent featured in the 1666 section. That might have been the only area that might have benefited from re-casting.

(L to R) EMILY RUDD as ABIGAIL and JULIA REHWALD as LIZZIE. NETFLIX © 2021

Aside from the accent nitpicking from myself, the cast of 1666 nails it in making sure viewers follow them closely on their journey. We see the return of Jeremy Ford as Caleb (a character that I will argue is the lit match that signaled the end for Sarah Fier, not the other villain revealed in this film), and he nails the role of a Puritanical man who hides behind religion to save face. Emily Rudd, Sadie Sink, Julia Rehwald, and Fred Hechinger return as well, but they stay within the realm of what they brought with their previous characters. It highlights why viewers loved them and their characterization to begin with. Ashley Zukerman takes on Solomon Goode, painting the picture of a man bowed down by repeated tragedy. McCabe Slye stands out in a great way as Mad Thomas, providing a complete 180 from the work he did in Part 2. As revealed previously, Kiana Madeira embodies the role of Sarah Fier, and provides a vulnerability, and captures the self-awareness of a woman who knows that society has damned her long before she knew herself.

Where viewers may be surprised is that PART 3 itself is not entirely locked into 1666. No, Janiak whips us back to 1994, where shit then truly hits the fan. Armed with the knowledge of all that she has learned, Deena (Madeira) takes her brother, Josh (Benjamin Flores, Jr.), and reunites with Gillian Jacobs’ Ziggy and Darrell Britt-Gibson’s Martin to end things once and for all. As transitions go, Rachel Goodlett Katz’s editing really sticks out here in providing that smooth transition from one period to the next, something that even a good screenplay might not be able to cover. Another nod must be given to the artisans and craftspeople of the movie, aka the below the line peeps as, without them, the clear visual divide between 1666 and 1994 would not have landed so well. All of these teams’ hard work is captured through DoP Caleb Heymann’s lens to perfection. It’s difficult to really single anyone out from these departments, but it can’t be ignored that these departments really helped make the film transcend visually to create that immersive impact.

With no needle drops in FEAR STREET PART 3: 1666, emphasis on the 1666 portion, the audience gets the chance to embrace the full musical score that Anna Drubich composed for the film. Capturing an isolated village vibe, viewers are taken through the folksy nature of the natural environment surrounding Union easily through the composition. The concise staccato plucking of strings, and changes in frequency are used to slowly emphasize the growing tension among the Union settlers, and it works. As actions onscreen reach a fever pitch, so does the score, driving the viewers into an auditory frenzy of Drubich’s own design. Her talent was heard abundantly in the recently released Werewolves Within, and it’s clear why she is a force to be reckoned with even more here in PART 3.

(L to R) GILLIAN JACOBS as C.BERMAN, BENJAMIN FLORES JR. as JOSH and DARRELL BRITT-GIBSON as MARTIN. NETFLIX © 2021

There has been an awful lot of talk online about how much music is featured in the FEAR STREET TRILOGY. For people who hated all the needle drops, as we transition back into 1994 in the story, you will have to mentally prepare yourself. There are more needle drops. It isn’t as dramatic in comparison to Part 1, but it’ll probably rankle a few viewers. With all that said, though, I do need to point out how the music snippets are utilized to either add a comedic edge or add further depth to the scene. It’s much easier to pick up on it if you are like me, and rely heavily on closed captioning to make your way through film or television shows. The example of this that really solidifies my point on this can be found as we transition into the end credits. Listen closely to those lyrics as we cut between the closing scene and back to the credits.

The most significant component, something that has stood out across the entirety of the FEAR STREET TRILOGY, is how impactful and likable the bulk of the characters are. I’ve made it no secret online that I am Team Shadyside. They are the underdogs, and you just can’t help but want them to persevere and overcome the curse that none of them ever signed up for. But it’s a true testament to the writers (Janiak, Phil Graziadei, and Kate Trefry), Janiak’s direction, and the care taken by the cast members to deliver these memorable, natural characters. It’s been a long time since there’s been a group of characters that I’ve liked this strongly, so it had to be mentioned as a final parting note on the subject from me.

To wrap up my mostly spoiler-free thoughts, as a finale to the FEAR STREET TRILOGYPART 3 hits hard. It wraps things up pretty tightly, and a lot of that has to do with the groundwork that Leigh Janiak covered in Part 1 and Part 2. The work done in the preceding parts, as well as the depth of the characters’ plights onscreen, made any callbacks far more efficient in execution. The contrasting tones between 1666 and our return back to 1994 help provide a necessary emotional balance for the viewer, providing almost a form of aftercare as we transition from one period to the next. Whether or not the aftercare impact was intended, it was much noticed by this reviewer. And, after the journey we’ve gone through with these endearing characters onscreen, the film manages to convey a sense of hope, which is both needed in the Fear Street world as well as our own. A property that would have fallen apart in less capable hands, this ambitious undertaking sticks its landing. All in all, a great end to the trilogy.

FEAR STREET PART 3: 1666 releases globally on Netflix today. After you’re done viewing all three parts the first time around, I highly recommend doing a re-watch. Many nuances are to be discovered.

Sarah Musnicky
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