Something special happens when you marathon horror movies. On their own, slasher movies like Friday 13 or Halloween may seem like nothing more than bloody fun. But when you watch a group in a row, the connections and mythologies become much more apparent; Jason Voorhees goes from a deadly demon to something more sympathetic. Some of them even have “previously enabled” segments to make these links more obvious.
These movies might not have been created with the frenzy in mind, but in many ways they benefit from it, which is part of what makes the Fear street so interesting trilogy on Netflix: it was designed to be binged. All three entries, starting with Part 1 on July 2, will be released over the course of three weeks. It’s a unique experience with changing viewing habits, and one that feels uniquely suited to horror as a genre.
The films are loosely based on the books of the same name by RL Stine, following a town called Shadyside that has been haunted for centuries, cursed with periodic – and gruesome – murders that have earned it a reputation as the Murder Capital. the United States. The films retrace this story over three periods. The first part takes place in 1994, followed by 1978 and 1666. Although they tell individual stories, they are all closely linked to the myth of Shadyside. You will definitely want to look at them in order.
The 1994 film begins, as many horror films do, with the death of a young woman. From here you learn that the town of Shadyside has long been haunted by a dead witch named Sarah Fier (pronounced “Fear”, naturally) and that every now and then someone engages in a murderous rampage, seemingly due to of its influence. The atmosphere is a bit like Scream crossed with the The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, as a group of misfit high school students, are working together to learn more about Fier and end the killings once and for all. (You can get a feel for the first movie by watching the first five minutes here.)
It has all the hallmarks of a slasher movie – ghoulish and inventive deaths, stubborn killers who never give up, free sex scenes – but it’s backed by the clue of a deeper mystery. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the way the first film connects to the sequels makes them ideal for up close viewing. When I finished the first part, I immediately had to know what happened next. And although everyone has a very different vibe – part two takes place during a summer retreat reminiscent of Friday 13‘s Camp Crystal Lake, while the third dates back a few centuries to the early days of Shadyside – they all feel like they are part of the same whole.
According to Netflix, all three films were shot over a 108-day span in Atlanta, preceded by a one-month writers’ room to define the story and how it would tie together each film. “Everyone involved in the production knew it was crazy,” Leigh Janiak, who directed all three films, said in a statement. “I didn’t realize how crazy and weird it was until I got into post-production and thought to myself, these are three completely different movies.”
Since Netflix began to embark on original programming, there have been countless debates over how and when Episodic Stories should be released on streaming services. Netflix typically drops new seasons of its big shows, like The witcher or Strange things, all at once, so that viewers can watch as they please. Disney, meanwhile, tends to go the weekly route, so you have to wait to see what happens next on Loki or The Mandalorian. (Disney even recently started experimenting with Wednesday versions instead of Friday.) There are advantages to both; binging gives fans what they want immediately, while weekly releases help a show stay in the spotlight longer.
So far, however, this conversation has never really involved movies. Fear street represents something new in that regard, and it’s the kind of experience that could only really work in the world of streaming. What might otherwise be a past and forgotten horror film is now more of a summer cinematic event. After the first part debuts on July 2, the two and three will follow on the 9 and 16. The releases are close enough that you don’t forget what’s going on in between, but also spread out so that the trilogy has its own. own extended moment.
As with all experiments, it is not clear whether this is a one-time event or the start of a trend. Marvel is unlikely to do anything similar for its next superhero epic; blockbuster movies are hard enough and expensive enough to make, without having to worry about making several at once. But for lower-stakes genre films, like horror, it makes a lot more sense. And, at least in the case of Fear street, the exit strategy actually improves the viewing experience – a new technique for bringing an old genre to life.