Throughout the month of July, Netflix has been entertaining a lot of us with the new hit exclusive movie trilogy 'Fear Street', based on the best-selling books by 'Goosebumps' author R.L. Stine - except this series is much more adult, portraying things like sex, drugs, and a fair amount of colourful language. Things have also somewhat cleverly been reflective of different eras of horror, first reflecting on the teenage horror era of the late 90s, then the slasher era of the early 80s, and now we take a peek at period piece horror with '1666'.
The film picks up where the last one left off. If you haven't made it this far, spoiler alerts ahead. The series bases things on a divided community between the towns of Shadyside (where all the bad stuff happens) and Sunnyvale (an image of snobbish perfection). Shadyside seems to have a history of murders which are often blamed on the curse of the Fier Witch - a girl named Sarah Fier accused of witchcraft in 1666, and eventually hanged. '1994' involves a group of teens investigating recent murders, leading them to the home of C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs) who recaps another story of mass murder at her camp when she was younger in '1978'. This all leads to the trilogy's lead, Deena (Kiana Madeira) flashing back to 1666 and seeing things through Sarah Fier's (Elizabeth Scopel) eyes for the first half of this film.
That may have been a poor recap, but getting to the point, '1666' tells of how Sarah used to live in a small village called Union (Shadyside and Sunnyvale before it was separated). When she stumbles on an evil book in a reclusive widows home, she soon learns that dark magic lies within those pages. Crops and food supply is destroyed, and things just seem downright cursed. This eventually leads to finger-pointing towards Sarah for her devilish ways (which, in 1666, meant the same as being gay - so there's a bit of a "woke" theme going on here). Anyway, this all unfolds up to Sarah's death, but the right secrets are revealed in order for Deena, her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) and C. Berman to try to end the Shadyside curse.
I liked this one just about as much as I enjoyed the second one, but for different reasons. '1978' I really liked mostly due to the fact that it was reflecting on some of the old school slasher flicks I'm so into - always more so than the teen horrors of the late 90s. But with this one, I appreciated that it did its period piece horror (and did it pretty well), but then came back to 1994 to give us some closure on everything. And I will admit that the climax to this chapter was one of the more interesting things this series had about it. The solution to everything seemed very simple, and even a little obvious, but the execution was actually something I had fun with.
I probably still prefer the second one, just for what it was along with my particular tastes, but this chapter certainly held its own. The period piece horror was kind of spot on, in that things get pretty perverse and gruesome, and a lot of that type of horror has to do with shock value of the extremes of the times. Think of it as taking its hints from 'Game of Thrones', just not quite as brutal (but is anything?) When it circles back to 1994, I'd say that's where things start to get into fun horror. You can tell that this doesn't take itself too seriously, and as one might expect, this really is a 'Goosebumps' series for adults.
On the whole, the series is honestly pretty good in its overall execution. The only thing I think I'd have to overlook for it to be really good are, again, these characters. The mains are better here than they were in the first one, each playing different characters from the past (for example Deena is in the shoes of Sarah Fier), but there's still no one here I can really get behind and route for. For me, this is sort of a modern take on the classic horror I used to like, and a lot of the time it gets it right. Sadly, characters do tend to be quite a large part of those movies as well, so I suppose I can't really be too picky about that. All in all, it's a decent series to tide us over between seasons of 'Stranger Things'. I can say that this was something I may not have been head over heels for, but I certainly appreciated it for what it was.