Third film opens in 1666 with young Sarah Fier (now Kiana Madeira) being thought wicked for her love for village girl Hannah (Olivia Scott Welch). With the warnings of “The Widow” (Jordana Spiro), a local woman suspected of practicing witchcraft, and the increasingly strange and gruesome events that are occurring in the village, Sarah—and the villagers—start to believe it. Soon a full witch hunt is underway and Sarah and Hannah become the targets of the villagers’ fears and anger, as they wish to purge their village of this evil presence.
Concluding R. L. Stine based installment is once again directed by Leigh Janiak from her script with Phil Graziadei and Kate Trefry. A strong and spooky finale that has some fun telling the origin story of “witch” Sarah Fier by having the cast members of the first two chapters play the parts. Kiana Madeira really shines here playing the part of Sarah, after already making a strong heroine out of her Deena. She’s a star in the making. There is sympathy for Sarah as we find out the surprising truth behind her story, one of an independent and passionate young woman and the ignorance and superstitions of others. It’s a dramatically strong finish, as we find out how the Shadyside curse came to be, it’s true nature, and then return to 1994, to wrap up the story in a thrilling climactic last act. It’s a spooky and strong concluding chapter, with the atmosphere and gruesome bloodshed we’ve come to expect from this Netflix series.
All in all a solid finale that manages to be the best of the three flicks. A fitting end for this wonderfully creepy and bloody three part horror series, based on the works of beloved author R.L. Stine.
Second film opens with Deena (Kiana Madeira) and Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) seeking out Christine Berman (Gillian Jacobs), the sole survivor of a previous massacre at a summer camp. The flick then goes back to 1978 to Camp Nightwing as Christine, known then to everyone as Ziggy (now Sadie Sink) is a picked-on outcast at the camp, who has a reputation for getting into and causing trouble. Ziggy is there with her older, good-girl sister, Cindy (Emily Rudd) and future sheriff, Nick Goode (Ted Sutherland). The Shadyside/Sunnyvale rivalry is in full swing and the legend of Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel) hangs over the camp. Soon bodies start to fall, and both Ziggy and Cindy must try to survive and stop the witch’s curse.
Second R. L. Stine based installment is again directed by Leigh Janiak from her script with Zak Olkewicz, written from their story with Phil Graziadei. Flick follows the template of summer camp horrors fairly closely, yet also does it’s own thing, while adding the self aware movie references that contemporary horror fans expect. It has the stereotypical characters one also expects, well played by it’s young cast and both Ziggy and Cindy make for good leads. Much like the first installment, it’s fun, nostalgic and has some intense and scary moments. The makers, from Stine to Janiak, know their influences well, but also bring some of their own ideas, such as some spooky stuff in catacombs under the camp. Like Part 1 there is a lot of bloody action, some nicely placed homages and plenty of gruesome gore. There is also a great soundtrack of 70s songs and some very creepy visuals to add atmosphere. If there is anything that holds 1978 back a little bit, is that due to information given us in Part 1, we go in knowing the fates of our two leading ladies and a few others. That does mute the suspense a little bit. Other than that, this is another solid chapter in Nextflix’s adaptation. So far, this three part series has yielded two strong entries and hopefully, it ends as strongly as it has started. Bring on Fear Street part 3: 1666!
First part of a Netflix three film series based on the books by R. L. Stine. Flick opens with a massacre in a shopping mall in the troubled town of Shadyside, Ohio in 1994. It’s a town whose continual woes are said to be caused by a curse set upon it by Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel), a woman executed for practicing witchcraft in 1666. When kids from the nicer and safer Sunnyvale, come to pay their respects, a fight breaks out between schools and there is a confrontation between Sunnyvale high schooler Deena (Kiana Madeira) and her former girlfriend, Shadyside student Samantha (Olivia Scott Welch). During a resulting car accident, Sam’s bloody hand makes contact with cursed ground and now murderers from Shadyside’s past are hunting the two girls, along with Deena’s friends Kate (Julia Rehwald), Simon (Fred Hechinger) and her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr).
Netflix Original is directed by Honeymoon director Leigh Janaik from her script with Phil Graziadei, based on Stine’s books. It is a fun throwback to 90s era horror flicks that, after Scream, were reference filled and high school centric. There is a surprising amount of graphic violence for Stine based material, but the books were written for an older audience than his Goosebumps. The young cast are good and their characters are likable and the fearsome killers are diverse in style and look, though all equally ferocious. The tone is serious and there are some nice scares, intense action, suspense and it movies quickly and efficiently at telling it’s own story while setting up the next installment. The gore and make-up are very well done, the kills have impact and the 90s setting gives a nice nostalgia for the time period both in itself and for the horror films released during that era. A real gory good time and starts this trilogy off with a bloody bang!
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Honeymoon is a creepy and disturbing horror film that has a bit of an art house feel to it and certainly can be seen as a metaphor for the fear of entering a serious relationship with someone and suddenly finding out they are not the person you thought they were. The story finds newlyweds Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Game Of Thrones’ Rose Leslie) going to a remote cabin for a honeymoon of seclusion and romance. Strange things start to happen almost as soon as they arrive, with a light being shined into their room as they sleep and the lamps blinking on and off. One night Bea disappears and Paul finds her naked and in a trance-like state standing in the middle of the woods. The next morning Bea seems a bit off, forgetting simple things like how to make coffee and French toast. Her odd behavior begins to escalate and Paul starts to become very worried for his wife’s mental health and a bit fearful for his own. What happened to her out in those woods? Was it simple sleepwalking as a result of stress from all the recent activity, as she claims? Was there a traumatic encounter with a local man (Ben Huber) Bea has known since childhood, as Paul suspects?…or is there something more unearthly at work here?
As directed by Leigh Janiak, from a script she co-wrote with Phil Graziadei, this is a very effective and disturbing little horror, despite the fact that we’ve seen the story of the suddenly strange-behaving spouse before, though not quite told in this way. At first, husband Paul seems a bit paranoid, but our time for questioning if he’s overreacting is not long, as Bea’s behavior gets stranger and stranger quite quickly. It is chilling to watch Paul coming apart as he, in turn, watches his new wife get weirder and weirder, all the while being illusive as to what is going on. She insists she is fine, just tired, but we see it in her face and in her mannerisms that she knows far more than she is telling her increasingly frustrated and frightened husband. Her behavior creeps us out, so we can identify with what he is feeling, such as when he catches her in a mirror practicing her excuses for her behavior and writing down their names so she can remember them. Janiak does a good job of drawing us into the couple’s drama and only feeding us enough information to keep us intrigued, but still as in the dark as Paul. She knows how to build tension and knows how to present disturbing scenes for maximum effect…and there are a few gruesome scenes. She also uses the isolation of the cabin to the story’s advantage, as we do share Paul’s feeling of being trapped with someone he barely recognizes anymore…and maybe someone he should also be afraid of. The only thing that really held this back, somewhat, is that we kinda know where this is headed and despite how well it’s all presented, we are not all that surprised when it gets there. We have seen this kind of story before. It still works very well, but it was familiar and can’t escape that familiarity entirely…even with the skill of Janiak’s telling.
The cast are top notch. Rose Leslie really delivers strong work as the young bride who becomes an almost different person the morning after her ‘walk’ in the woods. She effectively creates the persona of someone desperately trying to keep up the facade of normality when she obviously knows far more than she let’s on, that something isn’t right. She really conveys the pain of someone loosing control, the more Paul strips away her excuses and demands answers she is too horrified to give. Treadaway also does fine work, though not quite up to Leslie’s level. His Paul is not quite the alpha-male and is a sensitive guy, so he quickly becomes upset when the honeymoon starts to get weird. Even with what his character is dealing with, Treadaway sometimes gets a bit too bug-eyed and a bit too whiny. Not quite over-the-top, but occasionally drifting close. We still do sympathize with him and obviously feel for him when he becomes frustrated and frightened over his wife’s behavior. His torment feels genuine and that helps make this film work as well as it does, even if he could have toned things down just a bit. The only other cast members are Ben Huber as Bea’s childhood friend Will and Hanna Brown as his wife who appears to be behaving equally odd. Their screen time is very brief, as it is basically Leslie and Treadaway’s show, but they are effective in their small parts.
Honeymoon is a spooky and chilling little movie. The story may be familiar and we may know, ultimately, where it’s headed, but it is a very effective ride under the guidance of first-time director Leigh Janiak and her good cast. There are some very disturbing and unnerving scenes within and Janiak makes good use of the secluded setting. Add in the effective breaking down of a loved one as watched by their helpless significant other and you have an intense and horrifying flick despite the familiarity of the core story.