SPOILERS for Netflix’s Fear Street: 1994.There may also be spoilers for some of the original Fear Street books, which I read five bazillion years ago.
Gah, okay, I just watched Fear Street: 1994, and I am SO HAPPY! I loved the Fear Street books when I was in my tweens and early teens, and some of the stuff from those books still lives rent-free in my head*. When I found out Netflix was adapting Fear Street, I started freaking out with excitement. Now that I’ve watched the first of the three installments, I’m even more excited! They did a great job of adapting and updating the book series’ mythos of Shadyside, that ever-cursed town, without adapting any of the books directly.
*Thanks to the 99 Fear Street trilogy, I had an irrational fear of garbage disposals that lasted into my mid-twenties. I could use garbage disposals, but I always had images in my head of someone getting their hand stuck in one. Thanks for that, R.L. Stine!
Before I break down what I loved about Fear Street: 1994, I want to talk about why I loved the books so much. They were the pulpy horror books that I devoured. I was never really into Goosebumps, but Fear Street was just the young adult (YA) series I needed when I was waiting for the rest of the Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events books to be released. Yes, there was a time when readers were still waiting for HP and ASoUE books to be published. Anyway, Fear Street was a series about the residents of Shadyside, a town where citizens tended to die at an alarming rate. As the books progressed, they became more about curses and ghosts and witchcraft, particularly with The Fear Street Saga trilogy and Fear Street Sagas, both of which combined pulpy horror with (probably not that accurate) historical fiction. The characters were pretty much always teenagers, and they often got into crazy horror/supernatural dealings. I always cared enough about the protagonists that I hoped they would survive. Mostly, they did, but a few weren’t that lucky. It was a great series for someone who was just beginning to have a more teenage view of the world. Also, most of the books had been published by the time I discovered the series, so I didn’t have to wait for anything!
Okay, now that I’m done babbling about the book series, let’s dig into why Fear Street: 1994 is fantastic:
SPOILERS for Star Wars – Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. ALL OF THE SPOILERS.
I really enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker. In fact, I loved it. However, I know that the Star Wars fanbase won’t like it because not all of their questions were answered, and because it won’t make sense with the continuity and backstory laid out in various tie-in materials that only the most hardcore fans care about. It also doesn’t give logical explanations for certain things that I’ll mention below the cut because SPOILERS.
But you know what? I think that’s completely acceptable because Star Wars doesn’t need to make sense to be an effectively told story. Why? Because Star Wars is a modern mythos.
Okay, we’ll get into the spoilers after the cut, and just so I don’t spoil anyone before the cut with images, here’s Baby Yoda:
Anyway, I want to talk about why Star Wars has stayed culturally relevant for the past 40 years. It’s not because of any internal logic or strict adherence to continuity. Only a vocal minority of Star Wars fans care about those qualities and judge the stories by them. No, Star Wars has stayed relevant because it taps into both universal storytelling strengths and cultural anxieties, which is what all good myths do.
I have noticed that a lot of people, both professional critics and random people in comment sections, seem to completely write off a story if the plot feels at all familiar to them. If they can guess any aspect of what’s coming, the story is trash. This worries me because it seems that both critics and average viewers are thinking mainly on a plot level, and not seeing that even mainstream stories (or the good-ish ones, at least) have themes and motifs that recur throughout the narrative.
Additionally, because of this plot-level thinking, there are entire essays and videos dedicated to 1) trying to figure out the internal logic of fictional universes (spoilers: there are almost always plot holes and inconsistencies), or 2) nitpicking lines or moments that the reviewer didn’t like.
An example of the first kind of video/essay is this 10-minute video of a guy trying to figure out how the Tablet of Akhmenrah works in the Night at the Museum franchise. While I agree with him that the Tablet probably imbues the statues (like Teddy Roosevelt and Sacagawea) with the souls of the people they represent, I think that he spends too much time trying to make the Tablet’s behavior throughout the series make consistent sense. NATM is a silly franchise (though it has its merits in terms of themes and character development), so the Tablet works whichever way the screenwriters want it to work to advance the plot. Yes, sometimes the inner works of fictional plots and plot devices really are that simple.
Last week, I finally got to see Bohemian Rhapsody, the first-ever biopic* about Freddie I Mercury, First of His Name, King of the Virgos and the September Babies, God of Rock Music, Father of Epic Rock Logos, Immortal Gay/Queer Icon, The Great Pretender, Mr. Fahrenheit.