It’s a tale of two halves in Netflix’s third and final chapter of the ‘Fear Street’ trilogy, with the former sees director Leigh Janiak once again shifted the film’s tone. Here, the two different genre-defining slasher-movie formulas are both set aside and replaced with a horror film that relies heavily on mood and a foreboding sense of dread. The kind where you normally find in a horror film involving witchcraft that takes place in an ancient era.
Speaking of the ancient era, ‘Fear Street Part Three: 1666’ traces all the way back to the particular year in the 17th century. It was the year where the curse of Sarah Fier begins. Following the second film where Deena (Kiana Madeira) finally returned Sarah’s severed hand and buries it with the rest of her skeletal body in her burial site, she suddenly finds herself being transported back to the past.
From there, Deena begins to see everything from Sarah’s perspective. We learn Sarah lives with her younger brother Henry (Benjamin Flores Jr.) and their widowed father in a settlement a.k.a. Union inhabited with only a few other villagers. Without delving further, the film subsequently leads to a witch hunt and eventually Sarah’s doomed conclusion.
True to the film’s title, Janiak isn’t just set out to give us a brief flashback but extending it to a detailed manner. Some of us might think it’s an unnecessary prequel that doesn’t need to be told since those who have seen the first two films already knew what happened to Sarah Fier. And besides, a prequel to a successful horror film in a franchise is often viewed as either inferior or merely a cash-in (see films like 2004’s ‘Exorcist: The Beginning’, 2011’s ‘The Thing’ and 2014’s ‘Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, just to name a few). Among the reasons that why most prequels failed happened to be lacking the elements of surprise. And sometimes the origin of a character in a horror film is best to remain mysterious or ambiguous (such as the case with Leatherface and Michael Myers in their respective ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and ‘Halloween’ prequels).
Back to ‘Fear Street Part Three: 1666’, it’s not that the film feels inferior since it actually has a few worthwhile moments, notably the way Janiak builds up all the dread-inducing moments. The cast is generally good with Janiak goes as far as using the same actors to play different roles. As expected, Kiana Madeira stands out the most as Sarah Fier but it’s rather a surprise to see Benjamin Flores Jr. going from a well-acted nerdy brother in the first film to a barely-there supporting turn as Sarah’s brother. While it was an interesting choice to find Janiak opting for the same cast to play different characters, they seem to speak their accents inconsistently that fit the era. Most of the time they tend to sound like they’re still from the contemporary era. Given the fact the film takes place in a colonial period, their accents should have been different than what they sound in the ‘90s (as in 1994 in the first film)
The film also prefers to stick to the formula, where Janiak along with Phil Graziadei and franchise newcomer Kate Trefry (Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’) recycled the usual clichés (the obligatory sins, witch trial and such) typically seen in a witchcraft-based horror film set in an ancient era (genre films such as ‘The Crucible’ and ‘The Witch’ come to mind). If you have seen these types of horror films enough, you basically know what to expect here.
Predictable outcome aside, Janiak somehow manages to outdo herself during the second half of the film. As in the first paragraph where the ‘tale of two halves’ was mentioned earlier, the latter refers to the film’s back-to-1994 setting. It was technically not a spoiler since the film eventually concludes with Deena and the rest of the surviving teenagers from the first and second film all join forces to break the curse once and for all.
The second half even comes with a twist, which I won’t be discussing in detail here. Let’s just say it was something that finally made us understand how everything is tied up over the course of three films. Although ‘Fear Street Part Three: 1666’ has its few shares of flaws, this trilogy-ending chapter outweighs most of them with an overall, better-than-expected satisfying finish. The film neatly tied up the loose ends and even provides a clear and justifiable resolution. Here’s a friendly reminder, though: Do not click your browser away once the end credits begin to roll. Keep watching as there are few scenes appear between the credits.