For many years now, Netflix become home to many highly acclaimed original series, spanning across the genres, from drama to comedy, documentary, and animation. Sadly, they tried a few horrors ones but never with a success.
Their latest offering is Stranger Things; an eight-part show taking place in the 80’s about a young boy who mysteriously vanishes. It’s the sort of setting that comes to mind when recalling E.T. or The Goonies, or even more recently, J.J. Abram’s Super 8. A total tribute to Spielbergian cinema and Stephen King novels.
Stranger Things centers on the mysterious disappearance of young Will (Finn Wolfhard), who vanishes in the woods while biking home from a Dungeons & Dragons session with his misfit friends. His terrified mother Joyce (Winona Ryder who’s amazing in this role) and brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) are certain something terrible has happened to him, and the detective leading up the search team, Chief Hopper (David Harbour), is increasingly worried, too. Meanwhile, a mysterious young girl, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), has escaped from a shadowy government experiment — one that seems connected with an otherworldly creature that dispatches its victims from above, grunts and growls when near, and leaves behind pulsing webs of gray matter. Where is Will? What is the creature we hear but don’t see? And just what are those government officials up to in their secret laboratory?
Stranger Things — written and directed by Wayward Pines‘ Matt and Ross Duffer — is a total 1980s throwback, placing its suspenseful tale in a peaceful neighborhood where sessions of Dungeons & Dragons are played late into the evening. Dark, creepy, and sublimely intriguing, this throwback will remind you of many a vintage-era sci-fi/horror movie, in the most pleasant way imaginable. The cast is also very anchored in the ’80s-wear with wood-paneled walls, phones who’s a firmly attached to cords, and kids who’s free enough to race around on their bicycles, looking for clues. That is until the more eerie and unsettling elements of the series begin, with moments of unseen creatures and strange abductions that would feel right at home in an episode of The X-Files.
The acting of Stranger Things is just amazing. From Ryder and Harbour to the kids, there’s not a single bad performance here. The look on Joyce’s face as the Christmas lights suddenly starts glowing, the kids striving to stick together in spite of everything, Nancy realising what might have happened to her missing friend or when El tried the Lazy-boy… these characters connect with us and push the show beyond well-intentioned homage into something special.
Stranger Things is a spooky thriller presented with just enough of a 1980s pastiche it creates a mood which only heightens the horror. The nostalgia is often over the top, but then so is the terror which is so multilayered, pulling at a number of primal fears.
All episodes of Stranger Things are now available to stream on Netflix.
- The opening credit and music… Just setting the mood right
- Perfect mix of genre with horror, suspense, thriller and sci/fi
- Amazing acting by all the cast
- The music is so perfect
- Many hommages to the 80’s but…
- … the hommage to the 80’s is often too much… not subtle at all. Some Easter eggs would have been better than all in your face
- Some over-the-top story choice who’s making no sense at the end
Rating: 9 / 10