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Fear Street Netflix bets on bingeable horror with trilogy

Fear Street Netflix bets on bingeable horror with  trilogy

Fear Street Netflix bets on bingeable horror with trilogy

10 Influences That Explain Why 'Fear Street' Seems Familiar Fri, 02 Jul 2021 10:00:00 -0700-Fear Street Part One: 1994 debuts on July 2nd on Netflix, but it's just the first part of a horror trilogy that represents an experiment in binge-watching movies.

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Netflix bets on bingeable horror with Fear Street trilogy

July 02, 2021

Photo: Netflix

Something special happens when you marathon horror movies. On their own, slasher flicks like Friday the 13th or Halloween can seem like nothing more than bloody fun. But when you watch a bunch in a row, the connections and mythologies become much more apparent; Jason Voorhees shifts from a murderous demon into something more sympathetic. Some of them even feature “previously on” segments to make these links more obvious.

These movies may not have been created with binge-watching in mind, but in many ways they benefit from it, which is part of what makes the Fear Street trilogy on Netflix so interesting: it was designed to be binged. All three entries, starting with part one on July 2nd, will be released over the course of three weeks. It’s a unique experiment with changing viewing habits, and one that feels uniquely suited to horror as a genre.

The films are based loosely on the R.L. Stine books of the same name, following a town called Shadyside that’s been haunted for centuries, cursed by periodic — and grisly — killings that have earned it a reputation as the murder capital of the US. The movies track this history across three time periods. Part one is set in 1994, followed by 1978 and 1666. Though they tell individual stories, they’re all tightly connected to the Shadyside mythos. You’ll definitely want to watch them in order.

The 1994 movie starts, as many horror movies do, with a young woman being killed. From there, you learn that the town of Shadyside has long been haunted by a dead witch named Sarah Fier (pronounced “Fear,” naturally) and that, every so often, someone goes on a murderous rampage, apparently due to her influence. The vibe is sort of like Scream crossed with the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, as a group of misfit high school students work together to learn about Fier and end the killings once and for all. (You can get a sense of the first movie by watching the first five minutes here.)

It has all of the hallmarks of a slasher movie — inventively grisly deaths, single-minded killers that never give up, gratuitous sex scenes — but it’s buoyed by the hint of a deeper mystery. I won’t spoil anything, but the way the first movie connects to the sequels makes them ideal for close viewing. When I finished part one, I immediately had to know what happened next. And even though each one has a very different vibe — part two takes place at a summer retreat reminiscent of Friday the 13th’s Camp Crystal Lake, while the third goes back a few centuries to the early days of Shadyside — they all feel part of the same whole.

According to Netflix, the three movies were filmed over a 108-day period in Atlanta, which was preceded by a month-long writers’ room to nail down the story and the way it would connect each film. “Everyone involved in production knew this was crazy,” Leigh Janiak, who directed all three movies, explained in a statement. “I didn’t realize how crazy and weird it was until I got into post-production and was like, these are three completely different movies.”

Ever since Netflix started to dabble in original programming, there have been countless debates about how and when episodic stories should be released on streaming services. Netflix typically drops new seasons of its big shows, like The Witcher or Stranger Things, all at once, so viewers can watch at their leisure. Disney, meanwhile, tends to go the weekly route, so you have to wait to see what happens next on Loki or The Mandalorian. (Disney even recently shifted to experimenting with Wednesday releases instead of Friday.) There are benefits to both; binging gives fans what they want immediately, while weekly releases help a show stay in the spotlight for longer.

Up until now, though, that conversation has never really involved movies. Fear Street represents something new in that regard, and it’s the kind of experiment that could only really work in the world of streaming. What might otherwise be a gone-and-forgotten horror flick is now more of a summer movie event. After part one debuts on July 2nd, two and three will follow on the 9th and 16th. The releases are close enough that you won’t forget what happens in between, but also spread out so that the trilogy has its own prolonged moment.

As with all experiments, it’s unclear if this is a one-off event or the beginnings of a trend. It’s unlikely that Marvel will do something similar for its next superhero epic; blockbuster movies are challenging and expensive enough to make already, without having to worry about doing several at once. But for lower-stakes genre films, such as horror, it makes a lot more sense. And, at least in the case of Fear Street, the release strategy actually improves the viewing experience — a new technique to breathe life into an old genre.


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Netflix bets on bingeable horror with Fear Street trilogy Fri, 02 Jul 2021 10:00:00 -0700-The Netflix horror epic might have you thinking about slasher movies, '90s rock and Scooby-Doo all at once.

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10 Influences That Explain Why ‘Fear Street’ Seems Familiar

July 02, 2021

The Netflix horror epic might have you thinking about slasher movies, ’90s rock and Scooby-Doo all at once.

image
Julia Rehwald, left, Fred Hechinger and Kiana Madeira in the 1994 installment of “Fear Street” on Netflix.Credit…Netflix
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July 2, 2021, 12:37 p.m. ET

A killer is on the loose in the film trilogy “Fear Street.” But not only does this Netflix horror extravaganza leave a significant amount of blood in its wake, it also sprays the screen with a gusher of pop culture references.

Set mostly in the fictional town Shadyside and based on the books by R.L. Stine, the trilogy weaves through multiple decades, with one film steeped in the mall and high school culture of 1994, another set in 1978 at summer camp and a third starting in 1666 when the town was a village. (The installments will premiere on three consecutive Fridays, beginning July 2.) The trilogy speeds through characters, moods and genres, including teen romance and full-on slasher. The movies, on some level, are like a Netflix algorithm of styles, all wrapped up in a bingeable package.

Amid the many twists and turns, the films track the town and the outsize murder problem it has had for generations. Is witchcraft involved? Could it be Satan? Or are people just mean? The director Leigh Janiak aims to keep audiences on their toes, while also leaving them humming catchy tunes and thinking about both Halloween and “Halloween.”

Below is a look at 10 influences that horror and comedy buffs alike may spot.

image
Shirley Manson in the video for the Garbage hit “Only Happy When It Rains,” the song that introduces the lead character.

In the first film, set in 1994, mall culture (B. Dalton included) is alive and well. So is just about every song a teenager or college student might have listened to at the time. The needle drops bounce from Nine Inch Nails to Bush to, damn, even Sophie B. Hawkins. The songs are used somewhat the way Quentin Tarantino might: to project the thoughts of characters, including the lead, Deena, (Kiana Madeira), who is introduced in a moment of discontent with Garbage’s “I’m Only Happy When It Rains.”

Michael J. Fox, left, and Christopher Lloyd in “Back to the Future Part III.” That film traveled back in time just as Part 3 of “Fear Street” does.Credit…Universal Pictures

While there’s no DeLorean here, the adventurous spirit and the way revelations are understood across decades are reminiscent of Robert Zemeckis’s “Back to the Future” movies. The third installment in both trilogies hurtles us quite a ways back — to the Wild West in “Back to the Future” and to the 17th-century season of the witch in “Fear Street.”

The killer in “Fear Street” is reminiscent of movie terrorizers like Jason (played by Derek Mears in the 2009 “Friday the 13th”).  Credit…John P. Johnson/Warner Brothers Pictures

While the “Fear Street” movies dive into all kinds of supernatural lore, the most visceral elements of menace involve knives and axes. The 1978 summer-camp setting can’t help but remind us of some good old-fashioned “Friday the 13th” Crystal Lake mayhem. The Netflix entry ticks off some creative kills that would make both Jason from those movies and Michael Myers of “Halloween” proud.

Scooby and the gang are forerunners of the “Fear Street” characters.Credit…Warner Bros.

There is a bit of a “meddling kids” aspect to “Fear Street,” with a group of outsiders coming together to solve age-old mysteries. When the characters are researching the history of the town and its often-unsolved murders, you can feel Daphne and Fred of “Scooby-Doo” hovering just outside the frame. Deena gives off Velma vibes, and the movie has its own Shaggy in the character of Simon (Fred Hechinger), a slacker and trickster who finds himself in a few Zoinks! moments.

The final “Fear Street” film is a reminder of recent lesbian period romances like “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” starring Noémie Merlant, left, and Adèle Haenel. Credit…Neon

Recent years have brought a handful of solemn period romances with women at their center, like“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and “Ammonite.” The trend has been notable enough to be parodied on “Saturday Night Live.” Add “Fear Street” to the list with the emerging relationship between Sarah Fier (also played by Madeira) and Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch) in 1666. The two keep their passions secret, but their chemistry is as strong as the period accents.

The angst-ridden denizens of “The Breakfast Club,” played by Molly Ringwald, left, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson, are forerunners of the “Fear Street” misfits.Credit…Universal Pictures

While there’s not an ’80s entry in the series, John Hughes’s influence is hard to shake here, as “Fear Street” elevates the misfits, putting them front and center. With her disaffected, one-hand-in-her-pocket outlook, Deena brings to mind Allison Reynolds, Ally Sheedy’s downbeat character from “The Breakfast Club.” And the bookish gamer Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) in “Fear Street” has much in common with the Hughes creation Brian Johnson, played with classic geekiness by Anthony Michael Hall.

Linda Blair as the possessed Regan in “The Exorcist.”Credit…Warner Bros.

A staple of the horror world, possession — by spirits, witches or something worse — can add an interesting wrinkle to a narrative. How can you reason with a killer if they are possessed? (Answer: you cannot.) “Fear Street” has fun with this premise, converting some characters from harmless one moment to bloodthirsty the next.

Sissy Spacek as the victim of a bloody prom prank in “Carrie.”Credit…United Artists

In the 1978 installment, the bloody prom prank from Stephen King’s novel (and subsequent Brian De Palma film) factors into the plot with the ridiculed-but-resilient Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink), who seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. But in “Fear Street,” pig’s blood is replaced with a much more squirm-inducing alternative. Nonetheless, Ziggy harbors Carrie qualities, as an outsider who frequently faces the derision of other campers and constructs ways to fight back. She doesn’t have to turn up the revenge quite to Carrie levels, though. The killer on the rampage can do that.

“Fear Street” recalls the hijinks in “Meatballs” and similar comedies. Credit…Paramount Pictures

While the 1978 installment has its share of vengeance and slashery, there are plenty of buoyant moments, too. With its short shorts, rowdy counselors and wacky shenanigans, the film owes plenty to comedies like Ivan Reitman’s “Meatballs,” David Wain’s “Wet Hot American Summer” and Ron Maxwell’s “Little Darlings.”

“Fear Street” also borrows from  “The Witch,” starring Anya Taylor-Joy.Credit…Lionsgate

Janiak, the director, has said that her shooting style for the 1666 installment was inspired by Terrence Malick’s “The New World.” Indeed, some of the open-air ensemble scenes conjure thoughts of that 2005 drama about the founding of Jamestown. But the rural setting, the early English accents and the looming threats of witchcraft more quickly bring to mind “The Witch,” Robert Eggers’s meticulous and sober 2016 horror mystery. With grubby, candlelit interiors and a dark yet chilling relationship to animals (this time, some unpleasant dealings with a pig rather than Eggers’s use of a creepy goat), this “Fear Street” entry makes 17th-century living look painstaking and bleak.

The Netflix horror epic might have you thinking about slasher movies, ’90s rock and Scooby-Doo all at once.

image
Julia Rehwald, left, Fred Hechinger and Kiana Madeira in the 1994 installment of “Fear Street” on Netflix.Credit…Netflix
image
July 2, 2021, 12:37 p.m. ET

A killer is on the loose in the film trilogy “Fear Street.” But not only does this Netflix horror extravaganza leave a significant amount of blood in its wake, it also sprays the screen with a gusher of pop culture references.

Set mostly in the fictional town Shadyside and based on the books by R.L. Stine, the trilogy weaves through multiple decades, with one film steeped in the mall and high school culture of 1994, another set in 1978 at summer camp and a third starting in 1666 when the town was a village. (The installments will premiere on three consecutive Fridays, beginning July 2.) The trilogy speeds through characters, moods and genres, including teen romance and full-on slasher. The movies, on some level, are like a Netflix algorithm of styles, all wrapped up in a bingeable package.

Amid the many twists and turns, the films track the town and the outsize murder problem it has had for generations. Is witchcraft involved? Could it be Satan? Or are people just mean? The director Leigh Janiak aims to keep audiences on their toes, while also leaving them humming catchy tunes and thinking about both Halloween and “Halloween.”

Below is a look at 10 influences that horror and comedy buffs alike may spot.

image
Shirley Manson in the video for the Garbage hit “Only Happy When It Rains,” the song that introduces the lead character.

In the first film, set in 1994, mall culture (B. Dalton included) is alive and well. So is just about every song a teenager or college student might have listened to at the time. The needle drops bounce from Nine Inch Nails to Bush to, damn, even Sophie B. Hawkins. The songs are used somewhat the way Quentin Tarantino might: to project the thoughts of characters, including the lead, Deena, (Kiana Madeira), who is introduced in a moment of discontent with Garbage’s “I’m Only Happy When It Rains.”

Michael J. Fox, left, and Christopher Lloyd in “Back to the Future Part III.” That film traveled back in time just as Part 3 of “Fear Street” does.Credit…Universal Pictures

While there’s no DeLorean here, the adventurous spirit and the way revelations are understood across decades are reminiscent of Robert Zemeckis’s “Back to the Future” movies. The third installment in both trilogies hurtles us quite a ways back — to the Wild West in “Back to the Future” and to the 17th-century season of the witch in “Fear Street.”

The killer in “Fear Street” is reminiscent of movie terrorizers like Jason (played by Derek Mears in the 2009 “Friday the 13th”).  Credit…John P. Johnson/Warner Brothers Pictures

While the “Fear Street” movies dive into all kinds of supernatural lore, the most visceral elements of menace involve knives and axes. The 1978 summer-camp setting can’t help but remind us of some good old-fashioned “Friday the 13th” Crystal Lake mayhem. The Netflix entry ticks off some creative kills that would make both Jason from those movies and Michael Myers of “Halloween” proud.

Scooby and the gang are forerunners of the “Fear Street” characters.Credit…Warner Bros.

There is a bit of a “meddling kids” aspect to “Fear Street,” with a group of outsiders coming together to solve age-old mysteries. When the characters are researching the history of the town and its often-unsolved murders, you can feel Daphne and Fred of “Scooby-Doo” hovering just outside the frame. Deena gives off Velma vibes, and the movie has its own Shaggy in the character of Simon (Fred Hechinger), a slacker and trickster who finds himself in a few Zoinks! moments.

The final “Fear Street” film is a reminder of recent lesbian period romances like “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” starring Noémie Merlant, left, and Adèle Haenel. Credit…Neon

Recent years have brought a handful of solemn period romances with women at their center, like“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and “Ammonite.” The trend has been notable enough to be parodied on “Saturday Night Live.” Add “Fear Street” to the list with the emerging relationship between Sarah Fier (also played by Madeira) and Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch) in 1666. The two keep their passions secret, but their chemistry is as strong as the period accents.

The angst-ridden denizens of “The Breakfast Club,” played by Molly Ringwald, left, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson, are forerunners of the “Fear Street” misfits.Credit…Universal Pictures

While there’s not an ’80s entry in the series, John Hughes’s influence is hard to shake here, as “Fear Street” elevates the misfits, putting them front and center. With her disaffected, one-hand-in-her-pocket outlook, Deena brings to mind Allison Reynolds, Ally Sheedy’s downbeat character from “The Breakfast Club.” And the bookish gamer Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) in “Fear Street” has much in common with the Hughes creation Brian Johnson, played with classic geekiness by Anthony Michael Hall.

Linda Blair as the possessed Regan in “The Exorcist.”Credit…Warner Bros.

A staple of the horror world, possession — by spirits, witches or something worse — can add an interesting wrinkle to a narrative. How can you reason with a killer if they are possessed? (Answer: you cannot.) “Fear Street” has fun with this premise, converting some characters from harmless one moment to bloodthirsty the next.

Sissy Spacek as the victim of a bloody prom prank in “Carrie.”Credit…United Artists

In the 1978 installment, the bloody prom prank from Stephen King’s novel (and subsequent Brian De Palma film) factors into the plot with the ridiculed-but-resilient Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink), who seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. But in “Fear Street,” pig’s blood is replaced with a much more squirm-inducing alternative. Nonetheless, Ziggy harbors Carrie qualities, as an outsider who frequently faces the derision of other campers and constructs ways to fight back. She doesn’t have to turn up the revenge quite to Carrie levels, though. The killer on the rampage can do that.

“Fear Street” recalls the hijinks in “Meatballs” and similar comedies. Credit…Paramount Pictures

While the 1978 installment has its share of vengeance and slashery, there are plenty of buoyant moments, too. With its short shorts, rowdy counselors and wacky shenanigans, the film owes plenty to comedies like Ivan Reitman’s “Meatballs,” David Wain’s “Wet Hot American Summer” and Ron Maxwell’s “Little Darlings.”

“Fear Street” also borrows from  “The Witch,” starring Anya Taylor-Joy.Credit…Lionsgate

Janiak, the director, has said that her shooting style for the 1666 installment was inspired by Terrence Malick’s “The New World.” Indeed, some of the open-air ensemble scenes conjure thoughts of that 2005 drama about the founding of Jamestown. But the rural setting, the early English accents and the looming threats of witchcraft more quickly bring to mind “The Witch,” Robert Eggers’s meticulous and sober 2016 horror mystery. With grubby, candlelit interiors and a dark yet chilling relationship to animals (this time, some unpleasant dealings with a pig rather than Eggers’s use of a creepy goat), this “Fear Street” entry makes 17th-century living look painstaking and bleak.


... read more

– July 2, 2021

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