It all boils down to this. Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is the conclusion to Netflix’s weekly trilogy event, essentially acting as a weekly miniseries, if you will. While last week’s instalment, 1978, was a rather dull slasher, bogged down by pure filler and a story that wasn’t as interesting as its first film, 1994, the final chapter in the trilogy, 1666, is a marginally enjoyable (and dark) horror flick that cranks up 1994’s vibes to 11 and delivers a rather satisfying conclusion in the process.
The film is divided into two parts. The first part is set in 1666, where Deena (Kiana Madeira) is now Sarah Fier and sees the truth of what happened to her and how Shadyside’s curse originated. Predictably, it wasn’t what the Shadyside history books told us, with Fier covering up the real person behind the curse. Once that’s known, the film goes back to 1994 (part 2!) and amalgamates everything director Leigh Janiak has meticulously set up in the first two instalments to bring it all down in a climax that’s not only effective in its execution of being a classic 90s slasher but is also genuinely terrifying.
In terms of atmosphere, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is the scariest film of the franchise. Right from the get-go, there’s a sentiment of unease permeating the town of Union (before it was divided in Shadyside/Sunnyvale) as Sarah Fier and her brother, Henry (Benjamin Flores Jr.) use a knife to get a baby piglet out of the mother’s womb. It already sets the stage for everything else: no more obnoxious needle drops and an overall darkly comedic vibe inside its two period setting. Everything is now amazingly bleak, especially when a curse befalls Union as it possesses its town pastor to brutally murder Union’s children. Everyone is pointing the finger at witchcraft and believe it is the work of Sarah Fier, as she has shared a forbidden relationship with Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch).
“In terms of atmosphere, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is the scariest film of the franchise.”
While its sudden change in tone and atmosphere may feel jarring for some, Fear Street Part Three: 1666’s first part is a true actor’s highlight, with the story not being as interesting as it’ll be in its last part. The actors (and wonderful score from Marco Beltrami and Anna Drubich) create its dark and bleak atmosphere, with everyone who took part in the first two films are now playing their character’s ancestors. Ashley Zukerman is particularly frightening as Solomon Goode, sheriff Nick Goode’s ancestor, which is weird because his character has been the most uninteresting so far, with Zukerman’s line delivery feeling mostly flat and unengaging.
I’ll admit I didn’t even recognize him at first, as he uses a completely different accent than his tenure as the sheriff, which makes him even more scary than he is. While the character of Nick Goode suffers from the same problem that I’ve mentioned above in the film’s second part, Solomon’s added depth makes the Goode family feel more eerie than they ever were developed in the last two films. Kiana Madeira is also excellent as Sarah Fier/Deena, bringing a more emotionally investing (and dramatic) portrayal of the character than in the first two films. Her chemistry with Zukerman and Olivia Scott Welch is impeccable and makes for some truly incredible drama straight out of an “elevated horror” picture on witches.
“Solomon’s added depth makes the Goode family feel more eerie than they ever were developed in the last two films.”
The period accents are also perfect here, with notable performances from McCabe Slye, Fred Hechinger and Julia Rehwald even better than their initial characters were, mainly elevated through their period accents and verbal intonations that aptly recreate the dark and gloomy period of witch trials, blaming witchcraft when something goes wrong as a pure form of misogynistic mass hysteria. The way the film points fingers at how puritanism corrupted the mind in the 1600s, and essentially conditioned an entire time to accept witchcraft as legitimate is also baffling, which gave men the power to do what they want to women and then accuse them of witchcraft to “atone” for their sins. It’s a disgusting practice that Janiak is unafraid to expose. Even if its main story is fictionalized, witch trials weren’t, with women getting accused of virtually anything for men to cover up their unfaithfulness towards their families. This gives 1666 its darkest atmosphere yet, and only exacerbates itself during the climax.
Whilst its first part does move at a slow pace, once Fear Street Part Three: 1666 rebrands itself as 1994: Part 2, this is where the catharsis truly kicks into gear. The kills are more vicious than ever, the music becomes more bombastic and urgent, while Deena, Josh and Catherine Berman (Gillian Jacobs) try to trap the Shady side killers inside the mall near the hanging tree. I’ll admit some of it feels a tad uninspired, but there’s nothing quite like seeing a finale in which most of its scares are brought upon by the setting it creates, through its score and cathartic kills. And when the Shadyside killers start slashing one another, as if slasher cinema’s greatest hits are eating themselves alive, this felt like the perfect conclusion to what came before.
If you were disappointed by 1978’s lack of stakes and compelling characters, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 fixes that issue by putting its main characters inside the series’ most important flashback. While its twist isn’t as gripping as Janiak thinks it is, with the film’s first part being bogged down by a rather slow pace, it’s the insane catharsis of its final act and wonderful acting, from everyone involved, that elevates 1666 from being a satisfying end to a rather enjoyable weekly trilogy. Though I don’t believe the story is officially over yet, as a new trilogy might very well release on our screens in the not too distant future. Let’s see…