Where the first two Fear Street films either used their lore as background, such as in Part One, or as context, such as in Part Two, Fear Street Part Three: 1666, which requires that mythology to be front and center, can’t manage to find anything other than a utilitarian purpose for its plot.

Transporting the same actors from the first two films into different roles for this new colonial setting, this third installment shifts the modern parlance of 1994 and 1978 to have characters talk with 17th century rhythms and cadences, in an experiment that ultimately fails just as hard as its performers do with their new accents.

The whole 1666 segment is almost unwatchable. Director Leigh Janiak and her DP Caleb Heymann shoot this entire elongated flashback like an action film, where mood doesn’t necessarily matter as much. The jerky camera (presumably to fabricate suspense) and neglectful lack of establishing landscape shots ruin any sort of mise-en-scène, and the dark, blue, day-for-night-esque filters and drab coloring never showcase this 17th century milieu.

Without the possibility for levity or even dark humor that was interspersed throughout the 1994 and 1978 installments, Janiak and her co-writers Phil Graziadei and Kate Trefry try to compensate with more dialogue, yet so much of it is inconsequential, seldom necessary to understand the plot. You could watch these sequences with no sound and know exactly what’s going on. The words add nothing.

It’s not until the clever twist 45 minutes in where the plot finally stops following the predictable path, but then we realize that the hour we spend in 1666 could have been trimmed in half since the character development is essentially a parallel of the 1994 characters, and played by the same actors no less. The time isn’t spent productively establishing unique motives within this isolated segment—even of the villain, who had plenty of time to be fleshed out. Instead, Janiak chooses to develop the other, less interesting characters instead.

Luckily the final 45 minutes are spent back in 1994 in a serviceable final act. Although I’m still not sure if my enjoyment of this was more just relief that I no longer had to endure a dreadful 1666 anymore. Even if the new twist opens up a whole realm of plot holes that would need a fourth film to explain, we return to the shopping mall once again and promote the ancillary Martin (Darrell Britt-Gibson) from Part One to a featured player who single-handedly has more charm than any of the other actors combined.

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is so stretched out, yet runs at nearly two hours. Never quite becoming a full movie, this third installment feels more obligatory than it does fun, with a lack of narrative freedom that hinders any sort of homage that its predecessors were able to lace themselves with. Unfortunately, for anyone who became invested in the story with the first two films, watching this third is still deemed a necessity.

About the Author: Ethan Brehm

Ethan Brehm

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