Heading into Fear Street Part Three: 1666, I feared the story of the Shadyside Witch had hit a dead end. But like only a great final girl can, the last installment in Netflix’s R.L. Stine trilogy subverted my expectations and pulled off a harrowing eleventh-hour exit that was both satisfying and scary.
Part Three picks up where Part Two left off, with Deena (Kiana Madeira) hurdling through metaphysical impossibility to somehow “become” Sarah Fier. After reuniting the dead sorceress’ hand with the rest of her skeletal remains back in 1994, Deena wakes up in 17th century Shadyside acting, speaking, and, based on other characters’ reactions, seemingly appearing as the notorious witch.
But at this moment in our story, Sarah has yet to be accused of worshipping the devil or practicing dark magic. Like Deena, she’s just a young woman living her life in this allegedly cursed town. Getting to know Sarah and the puritanical world she inhabited makes up the first half of the film.
Across the village, Deena is joined by lookalikes from Part One and Part Two, with Kate (Julia Rehwald), Simon (Fred Hechinger), Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), Ziggy (Sadie Fink), Cindy (Emily Rudd), and even Tommy (McCabe Slye) appearing as townspeople.
None of them act like time-traveling teens. They all go by different names. And while some of their relationships seemingly mirror those of the future — Deena’s brother Josh, for example, becomes Sarah Fier’s brother Henry — only knight in shining armor Sheriff Goode (Ashley Zukerman) truly parallels himself as the kind and benevolent Alderman Goode.
It’s a complicated concept to add to a story already neck-deep in killers and plot twists, and how this major development helps answer the mystery of Shadyside’s supposed curse isn’t immediately clear. But precise writing, passionate performances, and a keen understanding of period horror help the Fear Street trilogy achieve a finale worthy of its three-movie narrative.
As far as scares go, you’ll get all the witch trial paranoia and barnyard gore we’ve come to expect of nightmares set in this time period. But what could come across as a hokey reach to reference a horror subgenre far outside the slasher scope of Part One and Part Two instead feels fresh and fitting. To be sure, swinging from 1978 to colonial times is a lot to process as a viewer. And yet, Fear Street makes it worth it, tying Deena’s heroic journey to timeless terror that sticks the landing.
Better enjoyed sans spoilers, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 has everything you’d want and then some. Now, Netflix… Let’s talk about doing this again next summer. Because you killed it.