Okay right off the bat before I start, I would like to say if you are an 80’s kid and you love Stephan King and Steven Spielberg and synth-infused 80’s nostalgia then Stranger Things is for you. If not then Stranger Things is definitely not the show for you. The best way to describe Stranger Things to the uninitiated is a mix of Steven Spielberg story telling lightly sprinkled with Stephan King flavoured horror with a heavy helping of Twin Peaks atmosphere. Stranger Things is set in the early 80’s in a sleepy little town in Indiana, a young boy named Will disappears into thin air after coming home from friends one night after playing Dungeon’s and Dragons. I won’t give more of the plot away but sufficed to say Stranger Things is a loving homage to the great Sci-Fi thrillers of the early 80’s.
Stranger Things seems to draw it’s inspiration from shows like E.T., Poltergeist, The Goonies, and Gremlins just to mention a few. If you accidentally stumbled onto this show you could have easily be convinced that you have traveled back to the early 80’s and now trapped watching something straight out of that era. Instead you are still in 2016 watching a lovingly crafted themed TV show. With a show like this the music needs to be on point and it certainly is, with songs like Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and New Order’s “Elegia” would put a smile on even the biggest 80’s music purists face. The story of Strangers Things is a beautiful and compelling tale, filled to the brim with likable characters.
I have never seen these kid actors before but they were all extremely good at their respective roles. Their on screen chemistry reminded me of the group of friends from Stephan King’s “Stand by me”. While ultimately the kids are the stars of this show there are two other people who also shine in their respective roles. Winona Ryder as Will’s concerned mother. Winona Ryder is amazingly grounded and convincing in her moments of anger and quiet resolve to find her missing son. Not to mention David Harbour is quietly excellent as the town’s depressed small town police Chief Jim Hopper, who has a past filled with sadness and loss. But the real star of the show is Millie Bobby Brown.
As the enigmatic, often silent Eleven a girl with telekinetic powers and the closely shaven haircut of a cancer patient. The range of emotions she portrays simply using her eyes: fear, confusion and raw fury is simply amazing. And combining all these acting and directing elements Eleven comes off as someone you never want to piss off. There are also older kid actors in the show. Mike’s sister, Nancy who is trying really hard to be a good girl in the face of determined advances by her boyfriend Steve who tries everything to get into her pants. Will’s introverted brother, Jonathan is the Ying to the Yang of his crazed mother looking for her younger son. All these other actors serve to flesh out an already amazingly talented cast of actors.
Having said that, some of the acting does comes across as over-the-top and occasionally it does become unintentionally funny, but considering the story and the early 80’s setting I can let it slide. I think one of the show’s strength’s is that there aren’t a lot of big name actors/actresses in it. And I think this lends it well to the show because, it really makes the experience of small town folks who experience an unusual disturbance in their small town more authentic. All these pieces came together perfectly and made me binge watch the entire 8 episodes in one sitting because I could not wait to see what happens at the end. One thing that I am hoping for is that they do not make another season. As it stands the show was perfect and everything we got was new and fresh.
So if they were to make a second season it would definitely not have the same effect and impact that the first season had. For the most part the series has had me eager to watch all eight episodes and left me wanting more. Stranger Things feels like a loving echo of past classics pulled together for modern day audiences. It’s not surprising that the Duffer Brothers worked on Wayward Pines previously, as Stranger Things is a similar weird things in a small town premise. Stranger Things definitely honours the 80’s movie monster traditions films like Jaws, Alien, and even Cloverfield where the monster is at first not seen. Throughout the entire series we are given just small glimpses of the monster.
Which is extremely refreshing considering most movies in this over populated genre these days throws the monsters right in your face from the outset of the movie leaving nothing to the imagination. This makes for some really excellent jump scares when it does attack, as you are even more terrified of it because you don’t know what it really looks like. Stranger Things is a spooky shot of 80’s nostalgia straight to your heart, The Duffer Brothers have done a rather amazing job. All anchored by a very likeable group of kids and supporting cast of actors. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face the entire time I was watching it, I felt like I was a child back in the 80’s all over again. Stranger Things is a refreshing shot of creepy, nostalgic, fun which I cannot recommend highly enough. Go watch it now!