Who is ready for the big finale of Netflix’s new R.L. Stine adaptation? Netflix has garnered plenty of attention over the last few weeks with this pulpy and homage-filled horror series. The cursed town of Shadyside has delivered a rich amount of horror tropes and cliches that director Leigh Janiak has been able to weave together into a fun and engaging thrill ride. The first installment is a pulpy collection of crazy entities wreaking havoc on this small town. Round two takes us back a few decades to a bloody and dangerous summer at camp (ala Friday the 13th). What makes Fear Street Part Three: 1666 standout is that we get two movies in one!
What are the two tales we are treated to this time around? First off, Janiak takes the audience way back (hinted at by the 1666 in the title) to a time full of religious zealots and witch hunts right out of tales like The Crucible or even ParaNorman. There might not be Daniel Day-Lewis to spout the iconic words of Arthur Miller but there are some terrifying visuals and twists in the first hour of this film. One scene that takes place in a church just might be the scariest and most demented moment in the whole series. This sequence of the film is dark and ominous in every way as Janiak gets rid of the camp and leans right into the horror roots of this type of film. Another great aspect of this trip to the past is a great mystery that is weaved and soon unraveled. The last two films have been building up to this mystery and laying hints at what has been causing the witch’s curse and now the audience is finally treated to the payoff. Is it satisfying? It is quite effective even if it comes out in a clunky and cliched exposition dump to another character.
But this is only half the film…where do we go from there? Not to divulge much at all since you deserve to enjoy this without me ruining it, we get treated to even more pulpy horror homages and an impact finale that satisfies our series. Is it the most original direction that they could go? No…but it certainly filled to the brim with tension and fun. The film also accomplished the feat of wrapping up the story in a satisfying way while also leaving the door open JUST enough to tease us for more (of course it must tease for more…because of money).
But is Janiak’s trilogy-ending third installment without its faults? Janiak and her team of writers do lean heavily on previous works to pull this fun if not derivative series together. Stine was so well known for playing with cliches and subverting tropes, but the adaptations of Fear Street seem more comfortable with playing with them and creating homages instead. This is not the freshest horror series out there but there is certainly enough fun to be had. The cast does help a lot with that, especially with a charismatic and committed performance from Kiana Madeira. Gillian Jacobs and Benjamin Flores Jr. are fun additions as well.
Is this final installment (and the Fear Street trilogy as a whole) worth your time to stream it? That really depends on what you want to get out of a horror movie experience. This film, by itself, delivers some solid scares and plenty of mystery to go around. But when it comes to tastes, this one is plenty pulpy and full of homages and nods to greater works. So, if you are seeking out a fun time, Fear Street is right up your alley. If you are looking for something bold and original, look for some A24 horror…not something based on an R.L. Stine series. For me, I had plenty of fun along the way. Part Three: 1666 just might be my favorite of this Netflix trilogy.