Netflix’s Fear Street three-part horror movie extravaganza debuted last weekend with Fear Street Part 1: 1994 and it introduced us to the town of Shadyside where a whole lot of murdering happens.
The story follows Deena (Kiana Madiera), a local high school student who is reeling from a recent breakup with Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), Kate (Julia Rehwald) the valedictorian (and part time drug dealer), class clown Simon (Fred Hechinger), and Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), Deena’s geeky younger brother. They are all from the wrong side of the tracks with the right side being the neighboring town of perfect Sunnyvale. Sam, once a Shadysider herself, had moved to Sunnyvale after her parents got divorced and it seemed to have been the catalyst for the couple’s relationship ending.
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD. If you haven’t watched the film yet, go do that now!
As the opening scene of the film shows us, Shadyside has a history of craziness where normal people inexplicably start murdering people. Case in point, Ryan Torres, who suddenly decided to stab a number of folks, including his friend Heather (Maya Hawke) at the mall where he worked at. What happened that made him put on a Scream-like mask and just start a killing spree?
We find out that poor Ryan has been controlled or possessed by the witch Sarah Fier. According to local legend, she was accused of witchcraft in 1666 and sent to the gallows for execution. However, she was able to cheat death by severing her own hand and burying it in an unknown location before her hanging. This act anchored her soul to Shadyside so that she could enact her revenge upon the villagers throughout the centuries. And boy did she!
Sam became her latest target after the teen accidentally disturbed Sarah’s grave due to a car accident. The cheerleader’s nose bleeds as she stumbles out of the automobile and onto the forest floor where unknowingly her hands submerge down a softer patch of earth. Sam then has a flash of visions including Sarah screaming, a massive tree, a hooded figure, an image of a skeleton wearing a hooded robe surrounded by text, Sarah hung, and hands.
Things escalate even more when Ryan (who had already been shot earlier by Sheriff Nick Goode) shows up at the hospital after Deena confronts Sam when she thinks her ex’s new boyfriend Peter is messing with them. It is Deena’s nerdy brother Josh who figures out that this is the work of Sarah Fier. He informs the group that the witch has been possessing different locals since 1666 so that they go on a killing rampage. She’s so famous in their area that she even has her own rhyme:
“Before the witch’s final breath,
She found a way to cheat her death
By cutting off her wicked hand,
She kept her grip upon our land
She reaches out from beyond the grave,
To make good men her wicked slaves
She’ll take your blood, she’ll take your head,
She’ll follow you until you’re dead”
Eventually they realize that Sarah is only after Sam but thanks again to Josh they realize that there was a survivor (C. Berman) from Camp Nighthawk, one of the previous mass murder sites at a kids camp. The rhyme above tells them that the supernatural entities won’t stop until Sam’s dead, but that C. Berman must have managed to evade Sarah because she had actually died and then been brought back to life.
At first they try to give Sam a cocktail of drugs to overdose and then planned to revive her with EPI pens, but it all goes awry and sadly results in Kate and Simon’s deaths. In a last ditch effort Deena drowns Sam in a lobster tank which seems to work and the supernatural killers vanish. She’s then able to revive her ladylove and things seem calm down. Except, well C. Berman finally returns Deena’s call and informs her that the witch won’t stop and will find a way. Sam then stabs Deena and a tussle ensues.
We get a scene of a black hooded figure in some kind of tomb where there’s a pentagram-like symbol carved on the ground. A fire is lit and we see the names of her other slaves carved in stone as Sam’s name is magically added. It’s interesting to note that this individual appears to be female and young from her visible hands. This also doesn’t make me think it’s Sarah Fier herself because both hands are attached. But if it isn’t her, maybe it’s a descendant?
This is a distinct possibility if we go by the book series that the films are it’s based on (by author R.L. Stine). In the novels the Fier family have been a part of Shadyside for multiple generations. A lot of the supernatural occurrences around town happen as a part of a curse placed on the Fiers after brothers Benjamin and Matthew Fier falsely accuse mother and daughter Martha and Susannah Goode of witchcraft. Benjamin’s son Edward had fallen for Susannah, but the father did not approve the match because the young woman’s family was poor. Turns out though William Goode (Martha’s husband and Susannah’s father) was an actual witch and cursed the family for ruining his. Eventually the spelling of the name was changed to Fear (hence Fear Street). These two clans have been stuck in a cycle of revenge of centuries and supposedly only a marriage between the two families could end the curse.
While we don’t know how much the films will dive into the Fear/Fier family saga, I can’t wait to see Sarah’s full backstory revealed in part three. We already have a Goode show up in Sheriff Nick and he definitely knows more than he lets on after that mysterious note he left in someone’s house saying, “it’s happening again.” As a fan of the books, I for one really hope they do!
Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is streaming now on Netflix.