Home > Reviews > FEAR STREET, PART THREE: 1666 – Marco Beltrami and Anna Drubich

FEAR STREET, PART THREE: 1666 – Marco Beltrami and Anna Drubich

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The third part of Netflix’s Fear Street, a trilogy of horror-thriller films based on the popular young adult novels by R. L. Stine and directed by Leigh Janiak, is set in 1666, and finally reveals the truth of what happened to the story’s overarching protagonist, Sarah Fier. The story is revealed in flashback to Deena (Kiana Madeira) and her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.); Sarah is a young woman living in the Puritan community of Union, the original town on which both Shadyside and Sunnyvale were based. Sarah is in love with Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch), the local pastor’s daughter, a relationship forbidden by the ultra-religious townsfolk. A blight begins to afflict the town’s crops, and then Hannah’s father seemingly goes insane, gouging out his own eyes and murdering several of the local children, before he himself is killed by farmer Solomon Goode (Ashley Zukerman). In revenge for them rebuffing his romantic advances several nights previously, one of the villagers falsely accuses Sarah and Hannah of being witches, and the pair must run for their lives or be hanged by the superstitious and reactionary townsfolk. Eventually, the true evil behind Sarah Fier’s curse is revealed – the truth of which helps Deena break the curse back in 1994.

The scores for all three Fear Street movies are by Marco Beltrami, with co-composer credit going to one of his various regular collaborators on each one: Marcus Trumpp on 1994, Brandon Roberts on 1978, and Anna Drubich in 1666. Drubich is an interesting composer; she was born in Russia, studied at the Moscow Chopin Music College, then in Munich, and then undertook the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program at USC in Los Angeles, graduating in 2012. She has scored documentaries, short films, TV series, and a small number of features all across Europe, but started getting involved with Marco Beltrami’s work around 2014, and got her first co-composer credit with him in 2019 on the horror movie Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Fear Street: 1666 is basically only her second major English-language credit, so it’s impressive that the score is as good as it is.

Unlike the first two films, Fear Street: 1666 doesn’t heavily feature pop and rock songs in the soundtrack, so Beltrami and Drubich’s score has to do all the emotional heavy lifting. Also unlike the first two films, despite thematic allusions to works like The Crucible and Witchfinder General, Fear Street: 1666 doesn’t really have a musical focus on classic horror scores from its specific period, so the approach was much more open to creativity and originality. In an interview with Variety, Drubich said she “started to collect sounds and sample things” because she wanted this “weird, witchy sound for the movie”. She recorded a donkey’s jawbone, some shell shakers, and her own voice, to give the movie an eerie and raw sound. She then blended this with a ‘nonet’ of nine chamber instruments, plus choir, performing in an untraditional, experimental way, as she felt that a big orchestra would have given it a completely different sound that would overwhelm the story. She went on to describe the music for a love scene between two characters, which had an “intimate sound,” but that she made sure to “use the cello for the evil theme that lurks in the village,” while in another part of the film “there’s a wink to the other two films, and a comedy theme, which turns back to serious for the end of the film.”

The final result is a curious blend of small scale thematic classicism, coupled with the unusual contemporary horror sounds that composers like Mark Korven and Bobby Krlic provided for films like The Witch and Midsommar, albeit with a sensationally beautiful finale. The overarching theme for Shadyside/Sarah Fier returns, and there are also some welcome allusions to the theme for Sheriff Goode from the first movie, that cements that character’s position at the center of the story, and illustrates how integral his family has been to the events in Shadyside and Sunnyvale for more than 400 years.

For the scenes set in Union, dissonance dominates. Beltrami and Drubich use layered string harmonics, the tapped and rattled and shaken percussion, and the unusual vocal effects, as a way to depict life in this puritan community, and the way it descends into an almost literal hell on earth through a combination of fear, religious hysteria, and the terrible choices made by one prominent member of the community that dooms them all. Cues like “Reflection,” “Devil’s Book,” “Pastor Miller,” “Bad Omens,” and “The Pastor” adopt this highly unsettling sound prominently, and despite how effective it is in context at creating an atmosphere of dread, it makes for tough listening. One or two cues feature some intentional electronic distortion, and “Hysteria” features the unusual sound of a jew’s harp and has a more rhythmic element to the strings, while the very dramatic “Accusation” features a large outburst of brass towards the finale.

One or two cues do buck the trend. “Full Moon Party” maintains the period sound, but is a little more festive and upbeat, featuring rhythmic layered strings. Both “Maiden Rock” and the subsequent “No Lamb” feature the same recurring ostinato of determined-sounding string figures accompanied by light percussion, which becomes more intense and dance-like as it develops; this is the first representation of the forbidden relationship between Sarah Fier and Hannah Miller, and underscores their initial sex scene in the woods behind Union with a vivid intensity. Interestingly, “No Lamb” also contains a touch of sadness in the strings, as well as some very subtle reflections of the Sheriff Goode theme in the chord progressions, referencing the lawmaker’s ancestor Solomon Goode’s importance to this part of story. Finally, “Dalliance” is the culmination of Sarah and Hannah’s relationship, and is essentially their love theme – a bed of warm strings, especially cellos and violins, with gentle harp textures in the background to give it a softly romantic sound.

More dissonance abounds in “Book is Gone” and “Sarah Hides” – there’s some impressive violent-sounding strings, alongside a yelping choir, in the former – but then all hell breaks loose, almost literally, in “Revelation,” which underscores the scene in which Sarah Fier discovers the truth about what has been causing the blight on her community. Beltrami and Drubich score this shocking truth with a mass of imposing chanted Latin vocals, some of which appear to have been processed in post-production to give them an even creepier tone, while also inserting some subtle allusions to the Sheriff Goode theme. The subsequent action music in “The Tunnels” and “Severed Hand” is outstanding, a mass of staccato strings jumping between different unusual time signatures, incessant rhythmic percussion, and rare (for this score) use of brass, which often explodes into vivid life. You really get a sense of Sarah’s desperation here, as she runs for her life from the forces of evil.

“Sarah’s Fate” is the musical high point of the score, and of the trilogy overall. Finally we realize that the Sarah Fier/Shadyside theme that has run through the entire trilogy is actually a lament, representing the terrible miscarriage of justice done to her by her kinfolk, the sacrifice she makes for Hannah, and the multi-generational love story between Shadyside’s women – Sarah and Hannah, Ziggy and Cindy, Deena and Sam – who eventually come together to save the town. It starts with percussive rhythms and a larger string ensemble, and slowly adds in an angelic choir, soft and appealing, above the elongated cello lines. The Sarah Fier/Shadyside theme begins to emerge around the 2:00 mark, and grows exponentially thereafter. The vocals are heavenly, the accents from cello and viola are lovely, and it gradually grows into a full orchestral statement, full of heartbreaking emotion. A tempestuous string ostinato underpins the cue’s soaring finale, and the whole thing ends with a solemn solo voice – Sarah Fier, the witch who was not a witch, softly calling from beyond the grave.

We snap back to 1994 in “The Curse,” when Deena – having witnessed everything leading up to Sarah’s unjust execution in a flashback vision – finally learns the truth about the origin of the Shadyside curse. The music here returns to the huge Scream-style orchestral action bombast of the first film, and is full of rich, rousing action horror music with emphasis on brass. The statement of the Sarah Fier/Shadyside theme for vocals and strings is especially important here – again, the legacy of Sarah is helping the 1994 protagonists finally set things right. “Goode Ending” offers an unexpected action setting of Sheriff Goode’s theme surrounded by more Scream-style orchestral horror – huge brass clusters, swirling strings, and vivid action rhythms, underscoring the pivotal encounter inside the Shadyside mall that finally breaks the curse. The final cue, “A New Day,” revisits the techno/electronica textures from the first film’s opening titles, but also pitches them in a little more ethereal way, calm and reflective, with a warmer and more pleasant version of the Sarah Fier theme for a pretty combo of piano, strings, and voices. The curse has been broken, the truth about Sarah has been revealed, and everyone in Shadyside can breathe a sigh of relief… or can they?

Fear Street, Part 3: 1666 is, for me, the weakest of the three Fear Street scores, as it contains by far the most challenging dissonance and intense horror writing, and is the least thematically dense. It’s also the least orchestral, and I miss the fact that this time the composers were not paying specific homage to a period in horror movie music history. That’s not to say that’s it’s a poor score, though, because it most definitely is not; the creativity behind the dissonance that Beltrami and Drubich show is certainly impressive, especially in the use of unusual percussion items. Not only that, the score contains the emotional high point of the entire trilogy in “Sarah’s Fate,” and is worth exploring for that cue alone. When taken as a complete series, the work that Marco Beltrami and his co-composers have done for Fear Street represents some of the best contemporary horror work in quite some time, and all three albums are necessary to gain a full appreciation for the entire story.

Buy the Fear Street, Part 3: 1666 soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Reflection (1:16)
  • Devil’s Book (2:31)
  • Full Moon Party (1:18)
  • Maiden Rock (1:45)
  • Pastor Miller (2:24)
  • Bad Omens (1:19)
  • Dalliance (1:29)
  • The Pastor (2:29)
  • Hysteria (2:01)
  • Accusation (2:20)
  • No Lamb (2:29)
  • Book is Gone (1:42)
  • Sarah Hides (1:56)
  • Revelation (1:05)
  • The Tunnels (1:56)
  • Severed Hand (1:32)
  • Sarah’s Fate (6:42)
  • The Curse (3:09)
  • Goode Ending (2:07)
  • A New Day (2:15)

Running Time: 43 minutes 46 seconds

Milan Records/Netflix (2021)

Music composed by Marco Beltrami and Anna Drubich. Conducted by Gavin Greenaway. Orchestrations by Rossano Galante, Dana Niu, Edward Trybek, Henri Wilkinson and Jonathan Beard. Additional music by Marcus Trumpp and Brandon Roberts. Recorded and mixed by Sam Okell and Tyson Lozensky. Edited by Brett Pierce. Album produced by Marco Beltrami and Anna Drubich.

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