Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Three movies deep, and I can safely say that Leigh Janiak is one of my favorite new creatives in horror. Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy, based on the book series from acclaimed author R.L. Stine, concludes its three week summer event with a bang! Fear Street Part Three: 1666 brings things full-circle in an incredibly satisfying and masterful way. It serves to flesh out the full backstory of Sarah Fier, but 1666 accomplishes so much more than that. Without the in-depth contextualization of lore, the final act wouldn’t hit nearly as hard.

Beginning once again with a ‘previously on Fear Street’ evocative of serial television, 1666 wastes no time getting straight to the premise. We are seeing Sarah Fier, the legendary witch from the other films, through the eyes of protagonist Deena (Kiana Madeira) from 1994. Thusly, all of the supporting players are people associated with her life in a Wizard of Oz twist. When a creepy book of spells makes an appearance, you know you’re in for a treat. Sarah Fier is just like the other folks in her colony. She helps a pig give birth. She goes to a local ‘party’ which is basically just a gathering around a roaring fire, takes mysterious hallucinogenic berries dubbed “the fruits of the land”, and defends her friend Hannah (Olivia Scott Welch) against an aggressive potential rapist. Where she branches apart is in her relationship with Hannah, one that she acknowledges “is wrong.” The two girls hookup deep in the woods, unbeknownst of peering eyes as they lock lips.

Odd occurrences cause quite a stir in town. Hannah’s father spirals downward, and she becomes convinced that it’s a result of her lesbian relationship with Sarah. The food and fruit in the town goes rotten and teeming with insects, the pig eats its babies, and a pet’s corpse clogs the well. At the convincing of gross creepy Thomas (McCabe Slye), he sways the townspeople to believe that Sarah’s lust and sin has “welcomed the devil.” After a horrible eye-gouging massacre, the town devolves into mania. Nobody cares about having proof, and various confessionals tell us Hannah and Sarah are unanimously suspected of witchcraft. Eventually, it seems that the only way to combat the evil of the people is to become the very thing they already think she is: a witch. Sarah’s legacy causes a ripple effect of surprising twists that reverberate to the 1994-storyline.

The truth about Sarah herself is interesting and fun, approaching witchcraft in a throwback fashion we have seen before. Each of the returning players does wonders with their roles, though limited. There was something fulfilling about seeing Fred Hechinger and Sadie Sink back in action despite dying in previous installments. The acting is strong from all of them. It’s very telling that my heart was racing during a climactic scene with Gillian Jacobs as Ziggy, praying she won’t be the next Clear Rivers, or Helen Shivers. I loved the parallels in several of the sequences, like the love between Sarah and Hannah that’s reflective of Deena and Samantha. The payoff is so satisfying for each story beat that I wanted to restart this entire trilogy from the moment it ended. 

The conclusion of the 1666 flashbacks is emotional, brutal, and merciless. It never comes across as a prequel segment just to pad time, or fill in blanks we already knew. Sarah’s story was so important to tell because it is the literal crux of the saga itself. Her story would not work as well without the additions from 1994 and 1978. 1666 had the unenviable task of wrapping up all three movies in cohesive fashion. It sticks the landing better than I could’ve envisioned myself.

A title card reveal late into the movie made me gasp in both shock and delight. That this element is so smoothly transitioned into the plot progression is damning evidence that the scripts for all three movies flow together seamlessly. My favorite aspect of 1666 is the emotionally resonant resolution that brings meaning for every life lost. No victim is too small, and none are forgotten entirely. Rarely does one film, let alone a series, recall its fallen victims with this amount of love and loyalty. 

Despite how it may look on paper, 1666 is razor-sharp smart, and just as good as the previous two Fear Street movies. You don’t need to use a cheat code for extra lives to figure out that if you loved the others, you’ll probably love this one too. If you simply enjoyed them but wanted more answers, 1666 has exactly what you need to think of these Fear Street films as one fully-realized meal. Whether it channels The Crucible, The Wicker Man, or Freddy vs. Jason, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is the rare three-quel that stands on equal ground with its predecessors.

One can only hope that the success of this R-rated Netflix gamble can push the company to mine the treasure trove of Fear Street content in R.L. Stine’s archive. The Cheerleaders and 99 Fear Street are both practically ready to go, with trilogy already pre-built into their DNA. The only thing that would make this deal sweeter would be to get back Leigh Janiak and some of the cast, American Horror Story anthology-style. Give the people what they want, Netflix!

Go on trial with Sarah Fier and friends when Fear Street Part Three: 1666 debuts exclusively on Netflix, Friday, July 16th. Read the review for Fear Street Part One: 1994 here. Read the review for Fear Street Part Two: 1978 here.

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