Heather is closing a book store she works at in the mall when she hears odd noises and senses that she is being watched from the darkness when Fear Street Part 1: 1994 gets underway. We’re hit with a jump scare and a couple of Scream-y fake-out nods, including a ringing phone, before Heather realizes that it’s just her pal Ryan messing around, and they agree to meet up before they leave for the night. But the stalking continues after Ryan departs, and suddenly the chase is on as a masked killer not too dissimilar from Scream’s Ghostface hunts her down.
He stabs her and she falls on her back, helpless as he gets ready to end her life. Just as Casey does in Scream, Heather weakly raises her arm and pulls the Halloween mask off the killer to answer one final question before she expires. But unlike Scream, which cuts away at that very moment to preserve the mystery of the killer’s identity, Fear Street Part 1: 1994 shows us the killer’s face. It’s still Ryan! He’s shot dead a second later, seemingly ending the story before it really starts.
Just like that, we’re unsettled and don’t know what to expect next. Fear Street Part 1: 1994’s opening homage to Scream makes it clear almost immediately that the film is not content with playing in the same sandbox of horror tropes as its predecessors and inspirations. And it won’t be the last time that the movie refuses to stay in its lane.
After the shock of Hawke’s death, we get a swiftly edited—and very ’90s-esque—opening credits montage that lays most of the Fear Street trilogy’s lore out for us. The gaggle of teens we’re about to meet live in Shadyside, which happens to be the no-good sibling of its idealistic neighboring town, Sunnyvale. Shadyside makes for a wild slasher hellmouth, with a long history of slayings creating a sort of fever dream you might have after playing too much Dead by Daylight.
Horrifying murder sprees are the norm in Shadyside. The 1970s boasted their own Friday the 13th-style slasher at the local summer camp, and the 1600s gave birth to the legend of a Blair Witch adjacent curse. What monstrosity is waiting in the shadows for the young stars of Fear Street Part 1? Pretty much all of them, as we quickly find out when the movie taps into another major horror influence: Cabin in the Woods.
Drew Goddard’s 2012 gamechanger poses the question “what if there were a huge selection of boogeymen available to prey on some unsuspecting teens?” but Fear Street Part 1 sets out to prove that its own protagonists would do a far better job of things than the Cabin crowd by quickly pitting them against their own Shadyside horde.
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