Spoilers follow for Fear Street Part 3: 1666, beware!
Shame on me! How could I have really believed that a rich white cop would be a good guy in the Fear Street trilogy? I forgot one of the first rules of horror, which is: Authority figures are often bad! So maybe once upon a time, Nick Goode didn’t want to be like his family, and the first sons who had come before him for 300 years. But the Nick Goode we met in 1994 and in 1978 had already devoted himself to the dark arts and to keeping Shadyside suppressed and terrorized for Sunnyvale’s benefit, and goddamn Ashley Zukerman and those moody puppy-dog eyes, he fooled me! (To Shiv Roy, I say: I get it.)
Our final concluding entry in the Fear Street trilogy begins, as the name suggests, in 1666, with the real story of Sarah Fier. In the previous two installments, we’ve seen over and over how both Shadysiders and Sunnyvalers talk about Sarah Fier. They think she was a witch who sold out their town, who traded her hand to the Devil, and who put forth a curse that has hexed Shadyside for centuries. Sunnyvalers gloat over Shadyside for their misfortune, while Shadysiders have grown increasingly nihilistic and cynical—and resigned—to the fact that their lives are difficult and dangerous. Serial killers are common place in Killer Capital, USA, and after so many years of this, both Shadysiders and Sunnyvalers don’t expect anything different.
1666, though, completely subverts the present-day idea of Sarah Fier by taking quite a few cues from Robert Eggers’s The Witch (or The VVItch, if you want to be totally accurate). In The Witch, a 17th-century family blames their agricultural misfortune and illness on their daughter, played by Anya Taylor-Joy; by the end of the film, Thomasin decides to live deliciously and in fact make a pact with Black Phillip to become a witch. The same mass hysteria that occurs in The Witch hangs over 1666, too. Sent “back in time” through Sarah Fier’s memories, Deena (Kiana Madeira) wakes up in Fier’s body, and spends a couple of days in her shoes.
In the settlement of Union, Fier lives with her father and brother Henry, played by Benjamin Flores Jr., the same actor who plays Josh. Unmarried, Fier has a close friendship with Solomon Goode (Zukerman, who plays Sheriff Goode), a widower who lives away from the settlement and is struggling to make it as a farmer. While Sarah’s father thinks she might marry Solomon, Sarah is instead attracted to pastor’s daughter Hannah (Olivia Scott Welch, who plays Sam). On one fateful night, as the teens prepare to party in the woods under the full moon (as they do each month), Sarah, Hannah, and their friend Lizzie (Julia Rehwald, who played bread-slicer-killed Kate) go to visit the woman they consider their local witch. In Widow Mary’s (Jordana Spiro, or Nurse Lane) tent home, Fier spots a book full of spells, including “a simple exchange” with the Devil—and is warned away from it by Mary. “Beware the Devil. He lives in that book. He calls to you from it,” Mary says, and so the teens go on their way.
Later that night, while high on the hallucinogenic berries they stole from Mary, Sarah and Hannah finally give into their feelings for each other by hooking up in the moonlight. And it only takes a few hours for the town drunk, Mad Thomas (McCabe Slye, who played Tommy), to tell everyone that he saw the two young women embracing. That news, coupled with a strange decay that immediately falls upon the town that morning and the possession of Hannah’s father, convinces everyone that Sarah and Hannah are witches. Director Leigh Janiak puts together a few well-edited sequences to emphasize the town’s frenzy, in particular one rapid-fire montage during which all the men in town repeat the lie that they saw the young women sleeping with the Devil. And I appreciated some of the grossness here, too: the moldy bread and apples; Sarah’s pig crunching through the bones of its own piglets that it ate while splattered with their blood; the wet pile of children’s eyes that the pastor had dug out of their heads. Per usual for Fear Street, we’re seeing a lot of aftermath here of violent acts—like those scattered children’s limbs in Fear Street Part 2: 1978—and that tactic unnerves me more than seeing the violence itself.
Even with that caveat, though, I must say that the fight between Sarah and Solomon—who is revealed to be the person who stole Mary’s spellbook, killed her, saw Sarah and Hannah kissing in the woods, and then made the “simple exchange” with the Devil for prosperity in exchange for the carved name of a person to possess every few years, setting the curse upon Shadyside and the good luck upon Sunnyvale—was unexpectedly intense. When Solomon stabbed through, and then basically twisted off, Sarah’s hand? Of course he was telling her that he loved her while attacking her; developing feelings for Shadyside women, and then causing them pain and suffering anyway, seems to be a Goode family trait (recall Nick and Ziggy in 1978). And then Solomon chains up Sarah, who confesses to being a witch to protect her beloved Hannah, and then he hanged her. While her hand stayed on that rock near the opening that would become Camp Nightwing’s outhouse, her friends dug up her body from under the hanging tree and relocated her.
In the moments before her death, Fier gave this big speech to Solomon that would become, over time, thought to be her curse upon the town: “The truth shall be your curse. It will follow you for eternity. I will shadow you forever. … I will never let you go.” It’s a nice moment for Madeira, whose most consistent mode over this trilogy has been very pissed off. But what the moment seems to lack is the sense that Fier has any real power to make that threat come true. It doesn’t scare Solomon. Fier didn’t make any dark arts alliances. And maybe I missed something, but … Fier’s curse doesn’t actually hold any weight over the next 300 years, right? The Goodes kept doing whatever they wanted. Maybe this is a commentary on the cultural powerlessness of women against the actions of evil men, and maybe that’s meant to make Deena’s eventual killing of Sheriff Goode slap harder, but I thought this moment curiously lacked narrative impact.
But yeah, Deena kills Sheriff Goode! Back in 1994, Part 2, now with the knowledge of what really happened to Sarah Fier and the evil Goode family line, Deena teams up with brother Josh, adult Ziggy (who feels personally betrayed by Nick), and Shadyside Mall security guard Martin (Darrell Britt-Gibson), who Goode had been framing for various crimes for a long time. I must ask: Why did the foursome come up with this convoluted plan to draw all the killers to Deena, and then trick them with Carrie blood splatter and sic them on Sheriff Goode? Why invite more enemies upon yourself, when killing Sheriff Goode alone would have done the trick? That felt like a choice made primarily to necessitate a big showdown, to remind us of all the creepy killers, and to use up all the leftover blacklight paint from Spencer’s Gifts backstock. Still, it also gave Gillian Jacobs’s Ziggy a full “reclaiming her narrative” moment, some nice bonding between Deena and Josh, and comedic relief in the form of Martin, whose “We really tied up a white girl?” face was great. And in the caves that Solomon Goode created with his devil’s pact, Deena stabs Sheriff Goode in the eye, ending that family’s reign, freeing her girlfriend Sam, evening the playing field between the persecuted Shadysiders and the smug Sunnyvalers, and—maybe herself starting a bond with the Devil?
Perhaps I’m wrong on that one. It feels intentional, though, that Deena heard that oily black thing speaking to her before she thrust Sheriff Goode’s hand on it, flooding him with memories of all the people the Goodes have killed. (Anyone else think of Eric Draven in The Crow, “I have something to give you. I don’t want it anymore. Thirty hours of pain all at once, all for you”?). And although I don’t quite understand why the oily black thing would have the power to make Sarah Fier’s curse real since it was clearly borne of Solomon Goode’s Devil’s pact rather than anything Sarah did, maybe it was a way to connect with Deena? Maybe Deena is the person who grabs the spellbook from the cave, where it’s marked as police evidence? A lot of this is speculation, of course. But what we definitely know is that Fear Street concludes with Sam and Deena cutting school, eating cheeseburgers at Sarah Fier’s gravesite, and kissing in a lovely expression of queer love that also serves as a “Fuck you” to the kind of oppressive patriarchal thinking that led to the deaths of so many women accused of witchcraft, sin, and darkness. As a happy ending, I’ll take it.
Fear Street Part 3: 1666 is streaming on Netflix as of July 16, 2021.
Image sources (in order of posting): Netflix Media Center, Netflix Media Center