Netflix viewers are getting scared this Fourth of July weekend, thanks in part to the work of R.L. Stine. Fear Street Part One: 1994 is the top movie on Netflix this weekend and holds the No. 2 slot on Netflix's overall Top 10 chart. It is the first part of an ambitious horror trilogy adaptation of Stine's novel Fear Street. It was directed by Leigh Janiak, who adapted the book with Phil Graziadei and Kyle Killen.
Fear Street focuses on a group of teenagers who learn that their town Shadyside has been haunted over centuries, and they have to work together to stop a series of murders before they are killed themselves. Each movie is set in different years, with Part Two taking place in 1978. Part Three is set in 1666. Part One's cast includes Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Maya Hawke, Ashley Zuckerman, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Fred Hechinger, Jordana Spiro, David W. Thompson, Charlene Amoia, and Gillian Jacobs. Some of the actors will appear in multiple parts.
Stine is best known for writing novels for younger audiences, including Goosebumps. The Fear Street books themselves are also intended for teen readers. However, the Netflix movies will all be rated R. Janiak, who directed all three Fear Street movies, said it was important to make the movies R to keep them true to slasher movie expectations.
"For me, they were always R-rated, that was always part of my vision of what the movies should be," she told ComicBook.com recently. "I think it's important that slasher movies are very violent and very crazy with blood and gore and all of that. Also, just thematically, for me, I wanted the experience of the movies to be really fun and scary, but I also wanted the moments of violence to be real and disturbing and remind the audience that there's a real evil happening in Shadyside."
Janiak said there were discussions about the rating, but they felt a PG-13 rating would be too limiting. "There were certainly conversations that happened, where people questioned and wondered, 'If we had a PG-13, would our audience be bigger?'" she recalled. "Ultimately, everyone creatively understood that this is what makes sense and I feel really lucky that it was never a battle or anything, it was just a conversation that we would have."
Flores noted that the films don't strictly stick to the Stine books, but they do embrace the spirit. "The scripts are based in the R.L. Stine world but not directly off of the Fear Street books and what they wrote already was good and I felt like everything that I could have learned, my character already had substance about, so I just tried to dive into my character as much and lean into whatever similarities that I have in my life to my character to make it as real as possible," he told ComicBook.com. Fear Street Part 2: 1978 hits Netflix on July 9, while Fear Street Part 3: 1666 will be released on July 16.