‘Fear Street Part Three: 1666’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

We are back for one last Shadyside scare! Fear Street Part Three: 1666 ties up the trilogy quite nicely, making it one of the most consistent horror trilogies in the past couple of years. We dive into Sarah Fier’s backstory, as we head to the time of witchcraft, and the devil. Fier’s small, colonial town is gripped by a witch hunt, that has deadly consequences for centuries to come. Fier’s story is then combined with Samantha Fraser’s from 1994, as the group of teenagers try to put an end to the Shadyside curse before it’s too late. The way this slowly flows into each instalment and era is really well done. The characters are all somehow linked to the curse of Sarah Fier, and the reveal in this third instalment is genius.

What worked incredibly well in this third instalment is that Deena is transported to 1666 through Sarah Fier. The concept of possession normally works for the present time and the body is rarely brought into the world of the dead. So it was a really nice change of events. We see that majority of the characters from the first two films are also in this third one. Doing this allows the audience to remain familiar with the faces while telling a new story, so that the emotional connection that was previously established could carry through.

The structure of Sarah Fier’s story was interesting because of the queer representation in 1966. Relationships were kept hidden, or were called abnormal; those who were queer were automatically linked to the devil. Fier’s story became rather important once we found out what had actually happened to her. It took one person, a town filled with misogynists and loyal Christian followers to create a false narrative. This all ties together at the end of Sarah Fier’s story, there was a Saw-like montage, showing the audience everything they missed in the trilogy. Once the audience goes back with Deena to 1994 they know what the plan is to end the curse for good.

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 has a sinister atmosphere from the start and authentically presents 1666. The score was disorienting and reminded me of Hereditary, there were plenty of animals used, flies were very prominent, and the essence of the devil around the townsfolk was felt. The violence and gore in this third instalment was subtle, but effective. The fun, fancy kills, were brought in at the end in 1994, which made complete sense. All in all, this trilogy had a perfect release strategy from Netflix, allowing this to become one of their best properties in their library.

Oh, and don’t worry, there could be another sequel… I wonder where they will go next?!

‘Fear Street Part One: 1994’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Do you remember the first horror movie you watched?

My first horror movie was Scream.

To me that is the perfect horror film to start off on. It will always be the first horror movie recommendation that I would give to the next generation of horror fans. The new Netflix trilogy, Fear Street acts as a first-time horror movie for a new generation of horror fans. Fear Street Part One: 1994 pays homage to many horror classics, like Scream and that is why it works really well. The trilogy is based off the novels written by R.L. Stine, and we all know that he has a twisted mind, when it comes to the work in his library. In this first instalment, a circle of teenage friends accidentally encounter the ancient evil responsible for a series of brutal murders that have plagued their town for over 300 years.

The reason why I call this a first-timer type of horror film is because it is not that scary. If you’re interested in watching horror films but you’ve been too afraid to watch some, then baby steps are necessary. The opening of this film is quite fun, it definitely serves that 90s nostalgia on a platter, while paying homage to Scream ahead of the opening credits. The slasher film does follow the same tropes, while still adding some surprises throughout. Does it necessarily reinvent the genre? No. But it still incorporates everything we know and love about slasher films. The main difference in Fear Street Part One: 1994 is that it combines supernatural elements with the slasher subgenre. They mixed those two together to create a pretty interesting story. Like all horror films, Fear Street has rules, and those rules must be followed in order to finish the job.

Another great thing about this first instalment is that the focus is entirely on teenagers. While they go through these horrifying tasks, they learn so much about themselves and the relationships they keep. On this crazy journey, we meet Deena (Kiana Madeira), Samantha (Olivia Scott Welch), Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger)who all have a history with each other. As they attempt to find out who the killer is, they all come together and work out their issues. There are some funny moments, but for some reason if there were jokes in the film, they didn’t quite land. It does drag on in the third act because of the three different endings, (or at least, that’s what it felt like to me) when there are multiple endings it kind of undervalues the previous kills, if the ones that follow are not as good.

Fear Street Part One: 1994 is a solid start to this trilogy and a great first horror film for the next generation. It is a supernatural slasher film that will bring horror fans back to their teenage years. There are plenty of twists and some fun lore that sends the teens on a tour through the city they grew up in. Don’t worry, even though it doesn’t have too many jump scares, the gore is definitely there and the suspense creeps in with the score. The ending of this first part will leave you wanting more and the Netflix release strategy for this trilogy is definitely working to their advantage because it hasn’t been done before.

‘Spiral: From The Book Of Saw’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

After the success of other instalments in the Saw franchise, it’s only fair to keep making them. This franchise has a massive fanbase and I can see why. After watching all eight films ahead of Spiral: From the Book of Saw – for the very first time I might add – I already felt some fatigue. While watching this instalment, the fatigue continued. As a new horror fan, the first three Saw films had so much style to them that made them unique. It set them apart from other horror films. But as the franchise went on, the further the filmmakers distanced themselves from the original vision from Leigh Whannell and James Wan.

Did Spiral: From the Book of Saw follow similar tropes? Of course it did. But they wanted to focus more on the detective story than the actual link to Jigsaw and the traps. The main issue with this franchise is that the story does not need to flow from movie to movie. Seriously, trying to connect the dots over nine films is ridiculous and it’s never clear. I know what you’re thinking, “But no one cares about the story,” and I get that but if you don’t have a strong script then at least make the traps memorable. The traps in this instalment were set up for shock value and there was no struggle to get out of them.

What has happened to the Saw franchise is that it has become too polished and clean cut for the movie they’re trying to make. Give us that grimey, sketchy warehouse feel with the traps that have high stakes. Bring back that graphic, bloody, almost naseautic visuals that made the first half of this franchise shine. Making it more cinematic and clean does not help the franchise after the seventh instalment. It just strays so far away from its original style that made it work in the first place. Unfortunately, with the story not being that strong, the performances also fell flat for me. So this was a total chore for me to sit through.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw is enjoyable if you are a diehard Saw fan and that is what is important here. This film caters to the fanbase that has stayed with the franchise over nine films. Seriously, NINE FILMS, that’s pretty amazing. This is a franchise that tries to reinvent itself because of the horror climate constantly changing. The Saw franchise just isn’t for me anymore but I do hope the fans enjoy their franchise and this ninth film. Will there be a Saw X? Go big or go home, Jigsaw, let’s play another game.

Sweet Taste of Souls Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Sweet Taste of Souls has a really unique concept that flips the moving picture frame trope on its head. When four struggling band members stop at a small roadside cafe for a slice of cherry pie, they find themselves imprisoned in the owner’s framed art collection. The film was intriguing from the very beginning and had refreshing moments for the supernatural subgenre in Horror.

Ms. Ellinore (Honey Loren) was heartbroken and defeated when her husband left her. She harnessed these supernatural powers to create a picture perfect life within her art collection, a life that she could never have. The film dives into the psychology of trauma and abuse, while adding a supernatural element to it. It is one of the most refreshing concepts because of how this complex, emotional story ties in with a trope we’ve never fully explored on screen.

Courtesy of Dark Coast Entertainment

The most impressive aspect of the film was the special effects and how they were used in certain scenes. There was a whole process in taking the souls of the characters and transferring into the frame, which was really interesting. It also felt really claustrophobic at times (which was a horrible feeling for me) which worked extremely well for the suspense of being locked inside of a frame.

Sweet Taste of Souls had great special effects, a really complex psychological story and sound design that elevated the story. It had great use of colour, especially the colour red, to pop against a faded background and make you remember that Ms. Ellinore was around the corner. It’s a very fun, original horror film, with a deep psychological exploration of trauma.

IT: Chapter Two

Welcome to the final chapter of the Losers club!

The one thing I will say about this film, is that Andy Muschietti has developed such a strong persona with both of these films. The first half of IT: Chapter Two had great camerawork and transitions, that made the story flow to and from each character introduction.

IT: Chapter Two, did not exceed my expectations like the first one but it somehow still left me content with where the characters ended up. It’s always impossible to adapt a Stephen King novel and I’m very happy that they incorporated that into the film. There were pieces of dialogue that mirrored the Kubrick “The Shining” discourse and naturally Muschietti also incorporated similar scenes.

The best part about both of these chapters are the actors and their counterparts. Every single child actor and adult actor, mirrored their character perfectly and THAT is what made IT: Chapter 2 so bloody entertaining. Yes, it was very long and it dragged out BUT the character interactions were the best part of this film. Bill Hader stole the show, playing Richie so perfectly AND James Ransone nailed the hypochondriac and fast talking Eddie! Both of them were standouts for me!

Unfortunately the story somehow got away from them because they attempted to do too much with the characters. They had developed Richie’s backstory, made implications about what he was hiding and then never explored that for him. The beginning makes sense, only if you make the connection to Richie Tozier, or else it was misplaced and beyond crude to open a film in that way.