How Netflix’s Fear Street Could Become an MCU-Style Shared Universe

Director Leigh Janiak already has plans for potential spin-offs from Netflix’s horror series Fear Street.

Maya Hawke in Fear Street
FEAR STREET PART 1: 1994 - (Pictured) MAYA HAWKE as HEATHER. Cr: Netflix © 2021 Photo: Netflix

The first film in the Fear Street trilogy has landed on Netflix with the following two movies arriving weekly. It’s a cool format – one overarching story links the three but each is set in a different era and plays in a different subgenre, while still working as a standalone film. 

Part one is set in 1994 and is a tribute to the slasher revival of the 1990s including movies like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Faculty, while part two is set in 1978 and is an homage to late 70s and early 80s slashers, with part three a folk horror set in 1666.

Shot back to back over 106 days it’s an ambitious move for Netflix, but according to director of the trilogy Leigh Janiak, it might end up being even more ambitious and sprawling than that, with the potential to build out additional films around other Shadyside murderers throughout history.

“I mean, that was the hope,” she confirms, chatting to Den of Geek just ahead of the first film’s arrival on the streaming service.  “I remember one of the first conversations that I had with my producers, when I was pitching what I thought was the potential of this series, I was like, ‘You have here the potential to have like a Marvel universe that is horror.’ We can tell the story of these other slasher killers in these other eras. We can build out the universe of Shadyside because evil doesn’t go away. So what does that mean? So I think that there’s a lot of opportunity here to continue just growing Fear Street. And I’m really excited about that possibility.”

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In Fear Street Part 1: 1994 we are introduced to the twin towns of Shadyside and Sunnyvale – the former supposedly cursed, the latter an idyllic place where everything seems perfect. Shadyside has a history of massacres spanning back over centuries and we’re given little nuggets of detail about some of the incidents.

We’re only given hints about each, with the exception of the Camp Nightwing killer, who will be the subject of Fear Street Part 2: 1978 but Janiak has plotted out a more detailed histories for each. These characters are new and not from any specific R.L. Stine book.

“I started making backstories for each of them. And obviously, you get hints of them within the newspaper articles that we see, and the little flashes that we see,” she explains. “With each of the killers, there was this conversation about who these people were before they became a killer. That’s the tragedy of Shadyside, right? Shadysiders are just normal people. And then something else turns them evil.”

Here’s what we know about the Shadyside killers from Fear Street: Part 1: 1994. 

“I was interested in who was Ruby before this happened to her, who was The Milkman before that happened to him, or Billy Barker,” says Janiak. “And so I think that maybe I wrote, I don’t know, just a page of backstory for each of them, enough to start giving a hint of what that world would be, as I talk to the actors about it. And then, also leave some space. So ultimately, hopefully, we can expand the Fear Street universe, and really give these characters their own due and their own full story.”

We’d watch that.

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Fear Street 1994: Part 1, the first of the Fear Street Trilogy, is available on Netflix now. Fear Street Part 2: 1978 and Fear Street Part 3: 1666 follow on 9th and 16th July.