The Fear Street trilogy comes to a close with Fear Street: 1666. Part origin story, part conclusion, the final film smashes together its timelines and serves up two distinct films at once that, despite their aesthetic and tonal differences, are inextricably bound. Every timeline touches. The past and the present inform each other.
The first hour of the movie takes us back to Union, the 17th-century colony where the curse of Shadyside first festered. Deena has been transported back in the body of Sarah Fier, a young queer woman with a knack for delivering pig babies. She is, in fact, not a witch, but we’ll get into that. Fear Street: 1666 switches from the slasher gears of the first two movies into a period horror that’s visually and tonally disparate from the others. The neons of the nineties are replaced with grays. The nostalgic needledrops are replaced with an orchestral score that moves between somber and tense. The horror-camp of both 1994 and 1978 gets replaced with a humorless, grisly period piece that’s more of a slow-burn gothic full of macabre images than a jumpscare-ridden, slash-em-up flick. It’s subdued, and it lets director Leigh Janiak play around with a different set of horror tools entirely.
In addition to Kiana Madeira stepping in as the storied Sarah Fier, we see lots of familiar faces in Union. Blurring the lines between past and present, characters we’ve already met have Union counterparts. Olivia Scott Welch, who plays Sam in 1994 appears here as Hannah Miller, daughter of pastor Cyrus Miller. In a direct parallel with the future, Sarah and Hannah are secret lovers. While 1666 is a mostly drab and dreary affair, their love provides genuine warmth and light. They sneak off into the woods for a steamy scene that feels wonderfully indulgent given the gloomy tone of this origin story. Fear Street: 1666 doesn’t make their romance chaste or restrained; they get to be as lustful and loving as Deena and Sam in 1994.
But, this is 1666. Their love isn’t only forbidden but directly associated with witchcraft. When blight plagues all of Union, Sarah and Hannah become easy scapegoats. Sarah’s father confronts her and suggests her queerness is a moral failing because she doesn’t have a mother to raise her. Hannah’s mother violently forbids her from seeing Sarah. The images in 1666 then get progressively more unsettling the more the town starts to turn on Sarah and Hannah. A dead dog poisons the town’s well. A mother pig consumes her babies. Cyrus Miller begins muttering incoherently, culminating with one of the most disturbing images across all three films. We already know from the previous movies that Cyrus Miller will become the first Shadyside serial killer, gouging out the eyes of a bunch of local children. But Fear Street: 1666 still manages to shock and craft a truly terrifying sequence despite that dramatic irony. A pile of bodiless eyes, dead children propped upright in church pews, and a ranting pastor make for quite the horror spectacle.
With the exception of that scene, much of 1666’s horror is less supernatural and more, well, natural. It deals with the insidious nature of hate and power. The town itself is poisoned. A ranting alcoholic with the on-the-nose nickname Mad Thomas fearmongers in the town square, asking who has brought the devil to Union. A boy seizes the opportunity to exact revenge on Hannah for rejecting him and Sarah for mocking him by pointing the finger at them. That’s all it takes for the whole town to decide these young women must be extinguished. In a haunting scene, man after man declares they’ve seen Sarah and Hannah laying with the devil. In Fear Street: 1666, the evils of humanity are exposed as the true source of the curse.
In fact, the movie recasts everything we think we know about Sarah Fier, the curse, and Shadyside’s cycle of violence. Sarah isn’t the maker of the curse; she’s one of its earliest victims. After Hannah is caught by a mob, Sarah vows to find a way out of their fate, deciding to visit the widow in the woods who has a connection to witchcraft and the devil. Sarah says if the town has already decided she’s a witch, then she’ll become one. But her plan is thwarted when she arrives to find the widow’s throat slashed and the spellbook missing. She seeks out her friend Solomon Goode (Ashley Zuckerman), one of the only people in her life who did not condemn her for being gay. But Solomon is not the good man she thinks he is. In fact, the detail that they were true friends and that he supported her in a time of need is interesting in the context of his eventual betrayal. Solomon represents a specific iteration of toxic masculinity. He’s a supposed “nice guy,” but at the end of the day, he still chooses power. He chooses a curse that causes centuries of pain and oppression.
Once the gears of this twist are set in motion, it’s easy to see where things are going, but the reveal that Solomon and the Goode family line are responsible for the Shadyside curse is very satisfying. In exposing the true source of the curse and clearing Sarah’s name, Fear Street continues to avoid making queerness a source of horror and instead demonizes the people with the most societal power. Sarah and Hannah’s story is obviously a tragic one, and folks who enjoyed the fact that the first film in the trilogy let its queer women live might struggle with watching Fear Street: 1666, in which there’s an implied sexual assault of Hannah and Sarah ends up hung for “being a witch” which really means for “being gay.” They endure violence and trauma as a direct result of being gay. Homophobia is the horror here. Patriarchy and colonialism are horrors. Solomon sees the sacrifices of this deal with the devil as worth it. He gets power. The colony gets prosperity. The ripple effects of one man’s selfish, corrupt choice echo for decades. It’s easy to see a line between the power-hungry, violent colonialism of Union in 1666 and the class issues that stratify Shadyside and Sunnyvale in the other timelines. Solomon and his descendants, including Sheriff Goode, must name a new killer to keep the cycle going, and Solomon thinks this is justified. He’s evil in a way that feels deeply human.
In the end, Sarah doesn’t bargain with the devil at all but rather bargains her own life in exchange for Hannah’s. With Sarah gone, Solomon and his lineage get to control the narrative, much like oppressors get to write the history books. They’ve demonized Sarah and absolved themselves, preserving the status quo for generations. Sarah doesn’t curse Shadyside. Instead, she actually promises to haunt the Goode men, which is why touching her bones makes people see the truth. But knowing the truth is also dangerous: Any time someone gets closer to exposing the Goodes, they become a mark for all the Shadyside killers. In going back to the beginning, 1666 recolors some of the previous films’ scenes, like when a young Nick Goode lamented to Ziggy in 1978 that he’s responsible for too much hurt.
After Sarah Fier is hung, we jump back into 1994, which means also stylistically returning to the first film, its neons and needledrops all the brighter and bouncier when smashed up against the aesthetics of 1666. The mashing together is actually quite fun, and in general, the interplay between the three movies is very satisfying now that we have all the pieces of the puzzle. It’s a rapidfire race to the finish line then, and Fear Street becomes a slasher romp again to great success. Deena, Josh, C. Berman, and Martin all team up at the Shadyside Mall to take out Goode and end the curse for good. There’s a lot of good horror-action here, like when they get creative with the mall shop security gates (in a fun callback, the B. Dalton gate malfunctions). The use of black lights and squirt guns full of Deena’s blood turn their mission into a high-stakes, real-life arcade game. Goode, as our resident Big Bad does thwart their initial plans, but watching Josh, C, and Martin improvise is an electric ride. In one of the most thrilling sequences, Josh realizes they can squirt blood on all the killers to get them to actually attack each other. Now that’s what I call entertainment!
Deena and Goode have a final showdown in the depths of Solomon’s cave, returning to where it all began. Things get especially chaotic when possessed Sam breaks free and joins them there, and in an admittedly corny but gratifying moment, it’s implied Sam only hesitates when strangling Deena because the connection between them is still faintly there, buried beneath the effects of the curse. You know what? I’ll take it! Let gayness save the day! Also, Deena’s killshot is such a classically great slasher climax.
The final 40 minutes of Fear Street: 1666 do feel a little rushed, but they’re invigorating and urgent. That first hour of the movie is disturbing and provides a solid origin story, but it lacks much of the fun team-up dynamics of 1994 and 1978. Fear Street is at its best when its characters are working together to fight back and survive. Until we get to those final forty minutes, 1666 indeed feels a little isolating, but that’s also an important part of the story, which hinges so much on individuals versus a community. Sarah and Hannah are alone in their pain. At the end of the movie, we once again see the strength and significance of people coming together in their fear and hurt. C. Berman and Martin rise to the occasion when Josh takes on Ruby Lane on his own.
With Goode dead, the killers quite literally blow up. Sam returns to herself. She and Deena crawl out of the caves and into Goode’s home, a pristine symbol for what the Goode’s received in exchange for the curse. Here sits this gorgeous, massive house on top of the caves where Solomon betrayed Sarah Fier and set in motion an awful curse that only punished the most powerless parts of a community. Watching Deena and Sam, bloodied and wearied, emerge in this Sunnyvale mansion is cathartic and vindicating. The reign of Sunnyvale comes to a close, Goode finally exposed as the evil he claimed to be fighting against. Ultimately, the stakes of Solomon’s deal with the devil are almost comically imbalanced. He caused a brutal cycle of violence…and for what? Municipal-level power? A suburb of mansions? But that makes his motives seem all the more human. The Goode men don’t want world domination or endless wealth. They want power and prominence as defined by the virulent “American dream.”
The tragedy of Sarah and Hannah gives even more weight to Deena and Sam’s romantic arc. They have a chance not only to avenge and exonerate Sarah’s legacy but also rewrite Sarah and Hannah’s love story—this time with a happy ending. They get their perfect date—burgers and the Pixies—fittingly spent in the final resting place of Sarah Fier. Fear Street: 1666 provides a wild balancing act between gloom and doom period horror, slasher camp, and romance. The disparate tone and style between its first hour and its final act are strangely effective. And its overall message about good vs. evil might not be super deep, but it does make for a compelling story, especially in how it casts people in power as the demons. The Goode guys are bad. The queer women get to be the heroes across all timelines.
Even though I was yelling at my TV for Sam and Deena to not leave the devil’s spellbook behind, Fear Street of course has to end with a final dun-dun-dunnnnnn to signal that all might be well for now but no curse is ever truly over. It’s a horror tradition after all, and Fear Street shines in its tributes.
Even though the series is done for now, I’m happy to talk theories, plot holes, and reactions in the comments! This morning, my girlfriend BURST into the room as I was putting the final touches on this review to say “wait why did Goode leave that note for C. Berman?” And I have the same question??? Was that just a cheap ploy to throw us off his trail? What other lingering questions do you have? Let’s chat!