FEAR STREET: PART THREE – 1666 (2021) – Third Part is the Best Part of the Netflix’ Horror Trilogy

Surprise.

That’s what I felt after watching Netflix’s FEAR STREET: PART THREE – 1666 (2021), the third and final installment in their FEAR STREET horror movie trilogy. Why? Because this third part is clearly the best part of the three. And I didn’t see this coming because honestly I wasn’t much of a fan of the first two chapters. For me, the weakest part of the first two movies was the wraparound story of the murderous witch which had cursed the town of Shadyside for centuries, sending demented serial killers into the town to slaughter innocent townsfolk every generation. Here in PART THREE, the writers take this wraparound story and turn it on its head, which for me, was a game changer. It made the weakest part of the trilogy the strongest part here in this final chapter.

That’s not easy to do.

So, for me, FEAR STREET: PART THREE – 1666 is by far the best installment in the series, and well worth your time. Can you skip the first two parts? Er, I wouldn’t. Because another reason this film works so well is the background information delivered in the previous movies. PART THREE uses the first two stories to its advantage. And the first two movies aren’t that bad. They’re just not as good as the third one.

The movie picks up right where PART TWO left off, with characters from the first installment, Deena (Kiana Madeira) and her younger brother Josh (Benjamin Flores, Jr.) reaching out to an adult Ziggy Berman (Gillian Jacobs), the sole survivor from the Camp Nightwing murders from 1978 chronicled in Part 2, asking for her help to save their possessed friend Sam (Olivia Scott Welch). At the end of PART TWO, Deena and Josh were attempting to reunite the witch’s severed hand with the rest of her remains, when a strange phenomenon struck Deena.

As PART THREE begins, we see that the strange phenomenon transports Deena back in time to 1666 into the body Sarah Fier where she will experience all that happened to create the infamous witch’s curse. Lots of familiar faces from PARTS ONE and TWO appear here in PART THREE as their 1666 counterparts, including Solomon Goode (Ashley Zukerman) whose descendant was Sheriff Nick Goode from Part One. In 1666, Sarah once again enters into a relationship with her friend Hannah (Olivia Scott Welch), but in this time and place, a sexual relationship between two women is strictly forbidden, and when they are found out, they are accused of witchcraft.

There is more to the story, but the less said about it the better, other than the plot in PART THREE works a heck of lot better than the plot in PARTS ONE and TWO.

Whereas FEAR STREET: PART ONE – 1994 captured the spirit of Wes Craven’s SCREAM (1996), and FEAR STREET: PART TWO – 1978 paid homage to the FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH movies, FEAR STREET: PART THREE – 1666 goes for THE WITCH (2015) vibe. And like she did with the first two installments, director Leigh Janiak nails the look and feel of the movie she is paying homage to.

The entire 1666 sequence is relentless. There’s not one ounce of fat on this animal, and the pacing moves with one beat after another. For me, this sequence is by far the most compelling part of the entire series. Now, eventually, to tie up all the loose ends, PART THREE returns to 1994 where it wraps up its story to end the trilogy. This last part, while interesting in that it does bring finality to the trilogy, is nowhere near as compelling as the first two thirds of this movie which take place in 1666. So, in spite of the fact that I like this one, the ending— once the time shifts back to 1994— is the weakest part of the movie.

Another reason I enjoyed PART THREE is I’m not the biggest fan of slasher movies, which Parts One and Two paid homage to. I much preferred the story told here which took place in 1666. The scares work on a much deeper level, and can be summed up by Sarah’s admission to Hannah that she fears Satan less than the people in their village who would hang them for kissing each other. It’s the people who frighten her, not some unseen spirit. And it’s this kind of depth which makes this movie resonate much more effectively than the first two parts.

Kiana Madeira and Olivia Scott Welch return to playing the two leads here in PART THREE, as they had done in PART ONE, and they are even more effective here in PART THREE. Their story has a deeper impact with a society that will execute them for loving each other. Of course, if you think about it, you realize this same fate exists for them in certain places in the here and now, which is another reason their story works so well.

I also really enjoyed Ashley Zukerman as Solomon Goode, as his character is one of the more interesting ones in the movie, and the revelations about his character finally explains the weird behavior of Sheriff Goode in Part One.

Gillian Jacobs makes the most of her brief time as the adult Ziggy Berman in the film’s opening and conclusion, and her take charge character was one of the best parts of the otherwise labored conclusion.

There are some fine scares in PART THREE, like the fate of the children in the church. When the townsfolk are searching for Sarah, these scenes are full of suspense. And the witch hanging sequence is powerful and emotional.

Director Leigh Janiak does a commendable job with all three installments. In fact, her direction was my favorite part of the entire trilogy, as her attention to detail with the camera was a constant throughout the series. All three films looked great, successfully captured the look and spirit of the films they were honoring, and all three were generally entertaining. I enjoyed PART THREE the most, because this was the one film where all the components came together, especially the script by Phil Graziadei, director Janiak, and Kate Trefry.

The plot about the witch in Parts One and Two did not work for me and was the weakest and most unbelievable part of those movies. But the writers turn that plot into a strength in PART THREE, making the witch’s story moving, believable, and extremely compelling. It also changes for the better the feel of the stories in Parts One and Two.

I have to say, I liked that the trilogy unfolded in backwards order, with Part One taking place in 1994, Part Two in 1978, and Part Three in 1666. This creative style of storytelling worked, and it made the events in PART THREE all the more intriguing.

And while I wasn’t nuts about the first two movies in this trilogy, the third part raised the series to a place where it simply wasn’t before. So, taken as a whole, the FEAR STREET trilogy is definitely worth a look.

FEAR STREET: PART THREE – 1666 is both the best movie of the lot and a worthwhile conclusion to the FEAR STREET trilogy.

It earns Black Philips’ hoof—er, stamp— of approval.

—END—

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