Netflix’s Fear Street saga has been the horror event of the summer, capturing nostalgic fans and new viewers alike. Director Leigh Janik’s trilogy offered teen thrills and chills, fun throwback horror, and interweaving stylistic tales of terror spanning multiple sub-genres. With the week-by-week film release now concluded, fans understandably want more. While the core trilogy and many supplemental books by R.L. Stine are an obvious way to get more paranormal adventures in Shadyside, there are many films and TV series that are similar in tone, themes, and subject matter that can offer that fix of adjacent horrors for those craving more.
The Queen of Black Magic (2019)
Adult adoptive brothers Hanif (Ario Bayu), Anton (Tanta Ginting), and Jefri (Miller Khan) return with their families to their childhood home, an orphanage full of dark secrets. As layers of the past are slowly unveiled, they are forced to face the malicious, vengeful spirit that seeks to trap and punish them. This Indonesian horror film, loosely based on the 1981 film of the same title, is a roller coaster ride of atmospheric, beautifully grotesque, and haunting horror storytelling. It constantly evolves, revealing more layers of human tragedy and righteous evil, building gripping suspense throughout, and keeping you guessing along the way.
While tonally far grittier and more adult, The Queen of Black Magic’s subject matter and themes are akin to those in Fear Street, particularly the exploration of condemning what one doesn’t understand, and the true source of human evil being exposed in time. Like Fear Street, possession, witchcraft, human sacrifice, and a cursed location are key focuses that are explored wonderfully. The film takes its time, allowing the suspense, intrigue, and mystery to build. Once the second act begins, it’s a ferocious and wild ride of multi-dimensional horror, depicting both supernatural and man-bred horror.
The Queen of Black Magic offers intensely creepy and effective body horror, featuring horribly contorting bodies, self-mutilation, ghastly infections that attack from within, and perhaps worst of all, losing control of oneself. Additionally, the film offers an incredibly haunting and brutal look at the true harm of body dysphoria and the hate we allow societal expectations to influence within ourselves. Most importantly, it shows how silencing and sweeping evils under the rug can only manifest in a greater, uncontrollable force of hellacious vengeance.
Gretel & Hansel (2020)
In this spin on the classic fairy tale, Gretel & Hansel simultaneously delivers a nightmarish vision of terror and an empowering coming of age film. Desperate to find a way to survive without being at the mercy of a cruel husband, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) takes her brother, Hansel (Samuel Leakey), into the woods to try to find work, food, and shelter. While it initially seems as if her wish has been granted, Gretel soon realizes she’s walked into a trap. Now, Gretel must find a way to survive the control of a powerful, malevolent witch (Alice Krige) who seeks to conform her.
Gretel & Hansel is a hauntingly beautiful, visually striking film that fans of Fear Street: 1666 will appreciate. While it does feel uneven at times, the merits far outweigh the flaws. The mix of classic and modern styles come together to offer a relatable and gripping film about resisting the box society places women in. The film evolves throughout, showing us crucial chapters in this young woman’s journey towards freedom and self-discovery. The most haunting moments are when the witch gets inside Gretel’s head, creating an ethereal nightmarish vision. As the witch digs her claws deeper into Gretel, you almost want to see the witch succeed, simply to see what it might awaken in Gretel. In the end, Gretel is a likeminded spirit to Fear Street’s Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel), unconventional, brave, and fierce, who ultimately fights against the evil that plagues her land. Krige gives us an utterly commanding presence and a wicked, complex portrayal of the witch that is equally malevolent and intriguing. Lillis offers just the right amount of vulnerability and fire that really powers the material and makes you completely invested in her journey. Gretel & Hansel is an underrated and beautifully crafted dark fairy tale about truly finding yourself, acknowledging the light and dark within, and thriving in that messy and complicated nature of your authentic self.
Light as a Feather (2018-2019)
Light as a Feather is a compelling teen horror series that focuses on a deadly curse plaguing and utterly isolating our young protagonists, offering a fitting follow-up binge for Fear Street fans hungering for more cyclical teen terrors. Violet (Haley Ramm) convinces a new group of friends to play what seems like a harmless game of “light as a feather, stiff as a board.” During the game, each girl levitates while a detailed vision of their death is crafted by the others. When one of the girls dies shortly after their game in the exact same way, the other girls begin fearing for their lives and fighting for answers on what is happening to them. They dig deeper into this curse, steeped in supernatural forces, trauma, and a parasitic infection that can be passed on, but not broken. Can they really condemn another to the same fate as them or face inevitable death?
Light as a Feather’s inspirations include Pretty Little Liars, The Craft, and Final Destination while having a spin and identity all its own. The show fell under the radar while it was airing and is still an underappreciated, juicy and exhilarating twisted horror tale. While it initially seems like it’s going to be along the lines of mean girl horror, it escalates and becomes something much deeper—and more terrifying. The series crafts a haunting look at death as an all-powerful entity from which there is no escape. It also explores personal tragedy, primal fears, and empathetic vs. survivalist mentalities that can both save you and destroy you in their own ways. At only 26 episodes total, Light as a Feather is a gripping tale of a deadly game and what it takes to stand against death and an unrelenting curse that demands to be fed.
You Might Be the Killer (2018)
During a summer camp massacre, camp counselor, Sam (Fran Kranz), calls his horror guru friend, Chuck (Alyson Hannigan) in a panic, believing she…
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