Leigh Janiak has found a new way to revive and parody the slasher movie since Scream 25 years ago. Her Fear Street trilogy will arrive on Netflix over three weeks in July and the trailer has been released this past week. The films will both be a nostalgic throwback and a step forward for the genre, revealing an interconnected story across three time periods.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Janiak says she “was interested in how we could reinvent the genre a little bit. Part of that came from this opportunity to tell a different kind of story that had a bigger narrative, connected over all three, that you need to watch in a short amount of time to get the full experience.”
The series follows an unorthodox sequel model and also wasn’t a traditional production model. Three films were shot back-to-back over 106 days, Janiak jumping straight from one film to the next. An approach like that isn’t unusual, but it’s mostly taken by big-budget franchises like The Lord of the Rings and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Janiak was inspired by R.L. Stine’s book series, with the films following misfit characters from the town of Shadyside across the years. The first film begins in 1994, where a group of teenagers discovers that an ancient witch’s curse connects to the gruesome tragedies that have plagued their town for decades. Then, the second film rewinds to 1978, and the third leaps back a couple of centuries to 1666, detailing the origins of the town’s troubles.
The trilogy also presented an opportunity for Janiak, as a horror movie fan, to play with different subgenres. The 1994 film is a teen slasher flick, and as the director puts it, “a bigger element of fun”, nodding to films like I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Faculty. The second film, on the other hand, is a summer camp horror film similar to Friday the 13th, while stylistically drawing on classics like the original Halloween.
And as there weren’t any period-appropriate horror films to draw on for the third film, Janiak turned to Terrence Malick’s Pocahontas story The New World. Janiak says “It’s got this gorgeous world that’s just spoiled and turns rotten… That was the big inspiration for us.”
But as EW points out, Fear Street is not the art-house horror flick like those that have recently swept the media. Janiak makes sure to note that audiences should just have fun with the movies. She tells EW, “I’m excited for them to meet these characters and live in this weird, crazy, insane world for a little bit with us.”
The trilogy’s cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Kiana Maderia from Trinkets, Sadie Sink from Stranger Things, and Ashley Zukerman. Fear Street Part 1: 1994 arrives on Netflix July 2, followed by Part 2: 1978 on July 9 and Part 3: 1666 on July 16. Watch the trailer below!