Rated R for being pretty demonic when it comes to witch stuff. There's a lot of invocation of the devil's multiple names. But even more so, while there is still some mild sexuality, the movie is far more upsetting due to an attempted rape. While there is no nudity, this imagery should be even more cause for concern. Like the other movies, there's a lot of stabbing and death and blood and gore and violence and all that stuff that horror movies wade in. A very hard R.
DIRECTOR: Leigh Janiak
*slow clap* Well done. When I started Fear Street, I had such low hopes for it. It all seemed so...Netflix disposable. Little did I know that Fear Street would be one of the movies that would stick the landing. Now, I'm the opposite from my friend Bob. Henson, the other half of the former Literally Anything podcast, loves witch stuff. That's his subgenre. Me, not so much. Maybe it is that intense Catholic upbringing, but I always find witch horror to be far too bleak. It never seems fun, so much as just depressing and pessimistic. The fact that I'm preaching this movie means that they found a way to make the movie fun while nailing down the themes of the trilogy overall.
I can't be one of the people who claims that he figured out the twist super early. After all, I'm on the conclusion movie. Janiak had already dropped all of the clues needed to solve the mystery. So when I say that I figured out the twist fifteen minutes into this movie, that's not all that impressive. I didn't see it for the first two. (I may have had an inkling in 1978, but not in any real clear sense.) But I can say that I absolutely dig where the movie hit politically. Okay, so a lot of it lines up with my political inclinations. That makes it easy. But geez Louise, making Goode family the big bad guys of the series is inspired and works out so well with just the entire political climate of 2020 / 2021 ever. I mean, the movie actually earns the line, "Goode is evil." Almost any other film, I would have rolled my eyes at that line, being so darned on the nose. But when you say it in the latter half of your final film, you've earned the right to drop that piece of knowledge right there.
Because that's what the allegory of the films is all about. Call this a film series about a haunted street. That's fine. If you intentionally tried to avoid any kind of deeper message to this series, it's just a great campy horror that takes itself just seriously enough to make it a great time. But when you break down how everything is about how people in power keep their power by oppressing others, then you have something on your hands. The opening credits of the first film show the long history of Sunnyvale and Shadyside, going all the way back to Union in 1666. These articles tell the story of an extreme version of the haves versus the have-nots. 1994 presents it as the have-nots, the Shadysiders, creating their own misery through crime and laziness. There is this unjust sense of morality within Sunnyvale. They thing they are the bastions and harbingers of good, despite constantly tearing down Shadyside. I mean, we get this. This is institutionalized wealth, often reflecting Republican values. (When in the color war, they wear red. Janiak is not subtle and this isn't necessarily me reading too deeply into this.)
And the entire history blames a woman, Sarah Fier. (Okay, the name's a bit on the nose.) It's simply assumed that everything started with the death of Sarah Fier and the separation of her hand. It's something that I followed along with until about halfway through 1978, where I thought it would be cool if Sarah was the good guy of the series because it really did make more sense with the themes that Janiak was playing with. Guess what? It was a good choice because Solomon Goode being the bad guy adds yet another element to this progressive wonderland: Good guys are problematic. I mean, his name is literally Goode. To add to all of it, Nick Goode is always slightly disappointing. He's the guy you want to have that major moment and to overcome his mediocrity, but then you realize that he's causing all of this horror and that he sucks. It's great.
I also applaud that the cause of all of this is a case of fragile masculinity. In the same way that the Multiversal War started in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because the Hulk didn't like stairs, every bad thing that happened in the Fear Street series comes from the fact that a random character was shamed when he attempted to rape a woman who refused his sexual advances. Honestly, that's all of it. At least the whole curse of Sarah Fier wouldn't have happened if that guy hadn't tried assaulting Sarah's girlfriend.
But again, it all discusses how power is seized. In the case of Fear Street, there's the fantasy element of demonic powers, but is it all that different? (Some of you are like, "Yeah, it is different." Take a breath. I'll explain.) Nick Goode is an example of generational wealth. Solomon, Nick's ancestor, took power from weak people. From there, he raised family to continue justifying evil acts for the family's greater good. To do so, people had to be considered expendable. With this case, it's the people of Shadyside. Nick Goode probably thinks of himself as a good person. There's this one moment that kind of sticks in my craw because it doesn't work as well as the rest of the moment, but maybe it is the fact that Nick doesn't think of himself as the bad guy that makes it work. I wondered why Nick would warn Ziggy that "It's happening again" if he's the one who is causing it. Maybe it is because he is trying to play both sides, but also it could be the fact that it forces him to be looped into the story by gaining Ziggy's trust. Yeah, that's probably it. But police forces and elected positions, such as Sheriff, tend to be generational things. Nick's brother is the mayor (which makes me question why the bad guys disappeared with the death of Nick. Is Nick the only one who performed the ceremony?). These are all things that come to them because the family has been bred with this manifest destiny that they must do the bad things to keep the clocks running.
There's one thing that didn't land with me. Okay, it's nitpicky. But the movie kept on repeating the Konami code. When it was in 1994, I rolled my eyes. The first film hits the nostalgia card just a little too hard and I read it as that. But when it showed up in 1994: Part 2 (the second half of 1666), I thought it had this greater meaning that could get me to clap. I mean, the movie really drove that Konami code into the ground for the finale and I didn't really get why. I suppose that it was all for nostalgia anyway.
But this series slays. It is one of the rare trilogies that absolutely leaves on a high note. It's pretty great. Sure, some of the rules on why the monsters kill are silly, but not enough to ignore the hit / miss ratio that Janiak pulled off. This is an inspired horror trilogy and I really had a great time with it.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.