NOTE: The following review contains spoilers.
Director Leigh Janiak sticks the landing in the final installment of Netflix’s Fear Street slasher trilogy with a tight storyline, killer soundtrack, and a hell of a surprise reveal. In a concoction of past and present narrative, Fear Street Part 3: 1666 delves into the origins of the Shadyside curse and Sarah Fier, the young woman at the root of it all.
Deena (Kiana Madeira) is at Sarah Fier’s gravesite when she is given an abrupt glimpse into Shadyside in 1666, then a village called Union. Through Sarah Fier’s eyes, Deena experiences everything Sarah has—shame for being a lesbian, accusation of being a witch, and being falsely held responsible for the evil and curse that plagues the town in the form of serial killers.
Sarah is a caring sister, daughter, and friend, and is deeply in love with the pastor’s daughter, Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch), who returns her feelings. Sarah finds confidence in Solomon Goode, the ancestor of Sheriff Nick Goode (played dually by Ashley Zuckerman), a seemingly caring and kind man that lives on the outskirts of the village—kind of like how a witch would.
When Sarah is accused of being a witch and her relationship with Hannah is revealed, she goes on the run and seeks sanctuary with Solomon. The livid townspeople come and search Goode’s home. As Sarah escapes beneath the house, she is led to the dark Satanic altar and cursed list of names that Alice, Arnie, Tommy, and Cindy found at Camp Nightwing in 1978. In shock, Sarah realizes that the Goode family are the Satan worshipers, and are responsible for the death that has its grip on Union. Shocked back to the present—and agonized that Sarah has been innocent this entire time—Deena races to stop the Sheriff and break the curse before he can cause any more deaths.
1666 showcases a unique casting choice, reminiscent of anthology series like The Twilight Zone and American Horror Story. The actors we have seen in the previous Fear Street films 1994 and 1978 return as similar characters in 1666. The return of such familiar faces as Kate, Simon, Tommy, Cindy is impressive, and Janiak capitalizes on it to reinforce the audience’s love of these characters and keep 1666 tied to the previous films.
The reveal of Nick Goode—previously shown as the mild-mannered, doe-eyed camp counselor and sheriff of Sunnyvale—as the villain of Fear Street was a clever and poignant point of 1666. When the realization dawns on Ziggy (Gillian Jacobs), we are given brief, wistful flashbacks of her and Nick’s younger selves kissing in a cabin at Camp Nightwing. The shock that Ziggy feels reverberates through the audience as well—Nick being the wicked witch was never something I even took into consideration. It’s a bold, blindsiding move, and it’s clever.
Ziggy’s heartbreak over Nick’s turn to evil is something Janiak does impeccably well, and it tracks through all three Fear Street flicks; there’s heart to these stories. This is most notable in 1666‘s climax, as Deena gives a pep talk prior to setting a trap for Goode. It’s one of the most touching parts of the film. She points out all those they have lost (with smiling images of Cindy, Alice, Arnie, Kate, Simon) as their images flicker past the screen. Deena urges that they are doing this for Shadyside.
We feel for these characters. We remember these characters because Janiak has kept them interlaced through the continuous narrative. Unlike the slashers of old (to which Fear Street, as a trilogy, pays homage), we have grown to love every character. We’ve gotten to know them, their stories, and their own issues. There’s a hint of sadness behind this scene, and in these neon-drenched, nostalgic gorefests as a whole. For this reason, the Fear Street trilogy has created a new, refreshingly unique slasher movie.
1666 gives a clean, comforting ending, with the haunting but optimistic Oasis track “Live Forever” cleverly playing in the background. This trilogy has scared me, shocked me, given me insane bouts of nostalgia for my elementary school library, and made me remember why I loved R.L. Stine growing up—and still do.
As Fear Street comes to a poignant close, all I can ask is, “Netflix, can you do this again next summer?”
Fear Street Part 3: 1666
dir. Leigh Janiak
Streaming now on Netflix (the final installment of a three-part series!)