Let’s see how it ends.
Warning. Minor spoilers for part one and part two.
Now that Deena knows more of the past, she gets to actually experience the past. She sees the final days of Sarah Fier through her eyes. The first half of the film takes place in 1666, where Sarah Fier has a dangerous relationship with the pastor’s daughter Hannah. As you can imagine, folks in this period are completely rational and not assholes about homosexuality or women thinking for themselves…
To make matters worse, the entire settlement seems cursed, and the young lovers are easy scapegoats for the mob’s wrath.
I’m torn here. The series could have been four films, and I think the chunks in the 17th century are the most interesting, but the series does not overstay its welcome. As I noted before, the series seemed to stutter a little at the start, but by the time the third entry comes in we have established lore, characters, and investment. Due to the heavy lifting of the first entry, the final entry is able to take off quickly.
The love between Sarah and Hannah develops better here. I think this is due to us seeing them in love at the start rather than after a split up. The film handles the sexist and awfulness of the period well. It doesn’t reach the same heights as The VVitch, but this entry works as a great starting point in examining gender, faith, fear, and evil in early American history.
We learn who the true evil is in this entry and are given an appropriately bitter tragic end to the past section. We then get 1996 Part Two (with a clever second title screen) and are thrown right back into the action.
As our heroes now must scramble to save themselves, we end up with a massive standoff at the mall. You might be getting Dawn of the Dead vibes from that previous sentence, but it reminded me more of It or The Goonies despite being in a mall instead of caves or sewers. The teamworking adventure elements are fun and provide enough momentum to keep the tension ample. I do think the final sequence might be a little overlong—but not by a huge amount.
After watching the final entry, I think I could rewatch the whole trilogy and enjoy it more. The series ends on a surprisingly refreshing and strong note. Good characters help propel everything forward. We also have an interesting lore that fleshes out nicely. I still think the first entry might be the most bloated of them, but there are still good moments there.
If I had to gripe (and I do, it is my thing) the horror elements are somewhat lacking. We end up with more of a horror-adventure than a straight up horror film. It does work here, and the socio-horror elements of queer characters and gender issues make for powerful moments. I think the two could have been married a little tighter throughout instead of just soaring in the 1666 chunk. However, for every thing wrong there are two things right.
I guess I have to eat a little crow. After the first one, I was a bit skeptical on how this one would go. We end up with a solid series with strong leads and perhaps the promise of more great content from this team.
Give it a go if you’re in the mood for some retro-infused teen horror. As a trilogy, this might make the top ten of the year.