‘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?!

‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

What can be said about Gunpowder Milkshake?

Well, it does bring the neon lights with some style and cool fight choreography. It has a solid soundtrack, and a fantastic cast of women, but it still falls short. We open on Sam (Karen Gillan) who is on a job for her boss Nathan (Paul Giamatti). It looks cool, sleek, and feels like its neo-noir with a modern action movie spin to it. The combination of those genres can only work if the script is strong, and sadly, this was a little too simple for my liking. They stretched a simple concept really thin. It didn’t have enough substance to match the flashy style of the lighting and camerawork.

What was the most upsetting is that Karen Gillan gave the most bland, internal performance I’ve seen in a while. It’s hard to lead a film if you are emotionless and stiff the entire time, rarely giving anything for your co-stars to even work with. You have absolute legends like Angela Bassett, Carla Gugino, Lena Headey, and Michelle Yeoh in this film, that were barely giving anything, and they still outperformed the lead of the film. It is hard to sit through this, knowing that those four actresses are there, waiting for the final battle, when they could have been scattered throughout the film.

The concept was there but the execution was disappointing. It was great to see an all female cast in an action film but they underused them as well. We have Sam, whose mother (Lena Headey) abandoned her at a young age do go do a job. Then 15 years later, Sam takes on her mothers hitman job and works for ‘The Firm’ with Nathan. She ends up whacking the henchmen of another big boss and he wants to get even. Very straightforward, had so much potential to be a fun, action film, but the entire second act was painfully boring. The highlight was when Sam went to the “library”, and there she meets Yeoh, Gugino and Bassett. She needed books, and in those books, there were different guns.

Gunpowder Milkshake had so much going for it, but it fell victim to having a wicked trailer, that had every good part of the movie in it. I had so much hope for this film because of this all-star cast but I was really disappointed with it. There were great action sequences but some of them ran long and felt really generic. There were choices made that lasted longer than it should have and that is what makes it a drag. There are ways to make something unique, play it up, and then know when to fold them. Sadly, this film is the lowest blow for me this year because of how hyped I was for it.

‘Fear Street Part Two: 1978’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Welcome back to the Shadyside madness. In this second instalment, director Leigh Janiak pays homage to Friday the 13th, and this sequel adds much needed backstory to the possession of Samantha Fraser (Olivia Welch). We leave our new teenage friends at the end of part one with Deena (Kiana Madeira) on the phone with C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs). Josh and Deena make their way to Berman’s house, only to discover the actual backstory of the Shadyside curse. Janiack takes us to Camp Nightwing, where young Berman and her sister, experience some traumatic events. The soundtrack will transport you to the late 70s and make you feel like you are a camper all over again.

The reason why this second instalment is slightly better than part one is because it felt more compact. The story was contained to Camp Nightwing and we already knew about Sarah Fier’s story going into it. As Berman tells her story and the events of her camp experience, we sympathize with her because she felt like she was an outcast. Everyone was against her, even her sister didn’t have her back. The camp atmosphere is always fun to play with because of the open area, the lake, and of course the cabins. There are endless possibilities for the scares, and Janiack really placed them throughout the film, where the audience could least expect it. Even though it does have the same formula – like most slasher films – it still has plenty of surprises.

The one thing Janiack does extremely well in this trilogy is the connection to each era. Even though part one takes place in the 90s, Janiack effortlessly transports her audience to a different time. Part two has the essence of a campfire story, which made the flashbacks to Camp Nightwing more effective. C. Berman is reluctantly sharing her story with Josh and Deena, and the editing brings both worlds together, in order to connect the gravity of the situation to Samantha Fraser. The characters in part two were more interesting than part one. It could be because of the sister dynamic, or even the nostalgia of a summer camp; but the camp counsellors really sold it for me.

Fear Street Part Two: 1978 is a solid second instalment that slightly edges part one. The consistency of the story throughout this trilogy is what is going to make this one of the best Netflix properties. The beauty of this trilogy is how each instalment pays homage to a classic slasher, while still presenting the supernatural elements of the possession. Fear Street executes the kills quite well, and the gore doesn’t feel too over-the-top. The third instalment will drop on Netflix on July 16th, and if people are loving this rollout, then we can expect more horror trilogies in the future.

‘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.

‘Feel Good’ Season 2 Explores Queer Relationships And Self-Expression

By: Amanda Guarragi

At one point in time, we have all struggled with who we are. It is always hard to understand the changes that we go through and we turn to television shows/films to guide us in some way. This generation is very fortunate to have projects that highlight mental illness, addiction, and queer relationships. Feel Good season two shows Mae (Mae Martin) recovering from her drug addiction and struggling to rebuild her life, especially her relationship with George (Charlotte Ritchie). Mae needs to take the necessary steps to heal from their trauma and this season takes an in-depth look in how to move forward in a healthy way.

There have been shows that balance humour with difficult subjects. Having Mae as a comedian (a version of Mae Martin’s own personal life), gives the character the ability to reflect on their own life and emotions in a very candid way. The writing for Mae and George perfectly captures how others could be feeling. The conversations had in this season, can allow audiences to understand the fluidity of sexual identity, and that is something we need more of. It also highlights one’s sexual expression when coming out to the world and fully being themselves. Charlotte is exploring her sexual desires in this relationship with Mae, while Mae is mending her heart and trying to define what love means.

The show finds its balance when delivering difficult emotional moments while adding one-liners that are perfectly placed to lighten the mood. The ghosts of Mae’s past come to the forefront in this season. Mae needs to make amends with her parents and get some closure from her past life. People enter our lives for different reasons and can have expectations from relationships. What others don’t understand is that everyone is constantly growing and evolving. Which eventually leads to a change in perspective, especially in situations that aren’t healthy.

Feel Good season two is refreshing, emotional and very funny at times. As Mae and George struggle with their relationship, you can see some awkwardness regarding certain situations. What audiences can appreciate from Feel Good season two is its honesty in showing how life truly is. Life can be messy, relationships can be difficult and finding your own identity is truly a journey. There is great chemistry between the whole cast and the show highlights all of their strengths throughout. If you are looking for a show to kick off Pride month, then this is definitely the one.