Skip to main content

Netflix bets on bingeable horror with Fear Street trilogy

Netflix bets on bingeable horror with Fear Street trilogy

/

Part one is out now

Share this story

fear street
Photo: Netflix

Something special happens when you marathon horror movies. On their own, slasher flicks like Friday the 13th or Halloween can seem like nothing more than bloody fun. But when you watch a bunch in a row, the connections and mythologies become much more apparent; Jason Voorhees shifts from a murderous demon into something more sympathetic. Some of them even feature “previously on” segments to make these links more obvious.

These movies may not have been created with binge-watching in mind, but in many ways they benefit from it, which is part of what makes the Fear Street trilogy on Netflix so interesting: it was designed to be binged. All three entries, starting with part one on July 2nd, will be released over the course of three weeks. It’s a unique experiment with changing viewing habits, and one that feels uniquely suited to horror as a genre.

The films are based loosely on the R.L. Stine books of the same name, following a town called Shadyside that’s been haunted for centuries, cursed by periodic — and grisly — killings that have earned it a reputation as the murder capital of the US. The movies track this history across three time periods. Part one is set in 1994, followed by 1978 and 1666. Though they tell individual stories, they’re all tightly connected to the Shadyside mythos. You’ll definitely want to watch them in order.

Fear Street

The 1994 movie starts, as many horror movies do, with a young woman being killed. From there, you learn that the town of Shadyside has long been haunted by a dead witch named Sarah Fier (pronounced “Fear,” naturally) and that, every so often, someone goes on a murderous rampage, apparently due to her influence. The vibe is sort of like Scream crossed with the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, as a group of misfit high school students work together to learn about Fier and end the killings once and for all. (You can get a sense of the first movie by watching the first five minutes here.)

It has all of the hallmarks of a slasher movie — inventively grisly deaths, single-minded killers that never give up, gratuitous sex scenes — but it’s buoyed by the hint of a deeper mystery. I won’t spoil anything, but the way the first movie connects to the sequels makes them ideal for close viewing. When I finished part one, I immediately had to know what happened next. And even though each one has a very different vibe — part two takes place at a summer retreat reminiscent of Friday the 13th’s Camp Crystal Lake, while the third goes back a few centuries to the early days of Shadyside — they all feel part of the same whole.

According to Netflix, the three movies were filmed over a 108-day period in Atlanta, which was preceded by a month-long writers’ room to nail down the story and the way it would connect each film. “Everyone involved in production knew this was crazy,” Leigh Janiak, who directed all three movies, explained in a statement. “I didn’t realize how crazy and weird it was until I got into post-production and was like, these are three completely different movies.”

fear street

Ever since Netflix started to dabble in original programming, there have been countless debates about how and when episodic stories should be released on streaming services. Netflix typically drops new seasons of its big shows, like The Witcher or Stranger Things, all at once, so viewers can watch at their leisure. Disney, meanwhile, tends to go the weekly route, so you have to wait to see what happens next on Loki or The Mandalorian. (Disney even recently shifted to experimenting with Wednesday releases instead of Friday.) There are benefits to both; binging gives fans what they want immediately, while weekly releases help a show stay in the spotlight for longer.

Up until now, though, that conversation has never really involved movies. Fear Street represents something new in that regard, and it’s the kind of experiment that could only really work in the world of streaming. What might otherwise be a gone-and-forgotten horror flick is now more of a summer movie event. After part one debuts on July 2nd, two and three will follow on the 9th and 16th. The releases are close enough that you won’t forget what happens in between, but also spread out so that the trilogy has its own prolonged moment.

As with all experiments, it’s unclear if this is a one-off event or the beginnings of a trend. It’s unlikely that Marvel will do something similar for its next superhero epic; blockbuster movies are challenging and expensive enough to make already, without having to worry about doing several at once. But for lower-stakes genre films, such as horror, it makes a lot more sense. And, at least in the case of Fear Street, the release strategy actually improves the viewing experience — a new technique to breathe life into an old genre.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.