*****This review will contain spoilers*****
“Stranger Things” is a new Netflix show created by the Duffer Brothers. “Stranger Things” tells the story of a small Indiana town named Hawkins. Four Friends, Mike, Lucas, Dustin and Will are keen to listening to 80’s music, watching all the John Carpenter horror films and playing Dungeons and Dragons in their basement. However, when Will mysteriously disappears one night, the remaining boys must uncover the mystery of their vanishing friend and confront a horror of supernatural forces that plagues their small town.
“Stranger Things” was a pure delight and spectacle of my childhood. This series by the Duffer Brothers combines all of the best Spielberg childhood films, ala “The Goonies,” “E.T.,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” combined with John Carpenter’s horror film “The Thing,” and also taking inspiration for Stephen King’s greatest ghost story novels. This eight-episode series is essentially a kids on bikes kind of adventure, where a handful of young boys solve mysteries while also emulating the spirit of childhood during the 1980’s. Even the killer opening title sequence, takes great inspiration of a B-horror Stephen King television show or a “Creepshow.” “Stranger Things” is brilliantly crafted and meticulously written, giving us one of the best series in recent memory. This show at times felt like J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8,” which was also an homage to childhood Spielberg Sci-Fi, and Stephen King’s “The Body,” or “Stand By Me.” “Stranger Things” combines the best elements that us adults remember from childhood while also feeling reminiscent of a great “Twilight Zone” or “X-Files” episode.
The cast of “Stranger Things” is absolutely fantastic. All of the boys felt so authentic and realistic which is very rare considering how hard it is finding great child actors. Their chemistry was so real and at times hilarious, which gives this series it humanly flavor. But out of all the actors and characters my personal favorite was L. L, played wonderfully by child actor Millie Bobby Brown was one of the best parts of this show. She is the E.T. character and her story line was not only fascinating but also heartbreaking. She is essentially the main focus of the show here and the way the boys interact with her is pure joy and entertainment. Millie Bobby Brown, even though she doesn’t say a lot in the series, reveals her facial features and dramatic gestures which were so solid. The supporting cast was very good, from the town’s Sheriff played by David Harbour to the desperate mother played by Winona Ryder. The cast felt very organic, realistic and had perfect chemistry all the way through.
“Stranger Things” also has an epic soundtrack ranging from the best music from the 1980’s, as well as cool synthesizers and creepy other vibes that felt like something from a John Carpenter movie. The music in “Stranger Things” helps give this show its identity and also helps set the time period which is the early 80’s. I love great soundtracks as they add so much to a film or television show and this series has one of the best that I have heard in recent memory. Also cool is the fact that there are tons of classic movie monster posters in the boys’ rooms, which also made me think of the best monster movies that I saw when I was a kid. The look and feel of the 1980’s is known in this show and you feel like you are living in a small 1980’s town. You feel like you are going on this adventure with the kids and like a J.J. Abrams film, the puzzle pieces all come together by the end of the show and the reveals are slow building with great awe and suspense.
I thought the other dimension or the “underneath” was such a cool take on another world, that reminded me of the game series “Silent Hill.” The creatures and monsters looked like something from a “Doom” video game or “Silent Hill.” The incorporation of both worlds was very creative and I loved the fact that L, or Eleven was sort of the bridge between those two worlds. Now getting into the ending, L sacrifices herself to save the boys and we are left with the thought that she is dead. However, the Sheriff is shown visiting a grave like site, while putting ego waffles inside a mysterious looking chest. So this begs the question: Is she still alive and if she is where is she? Does the Sheriff know what happened to her? I think he does and it leaves a great tease for Season 2. Also, Will, the mysterious boy who vanished and returned also still has some connections to the underneath, while also coughing up a slug. There aren’t any game changing teases to season 2 or any big cliffhangers for that matter. This show stands on its own as a one off series with a complete beginning and ending. However, season 2 is coming and I could not be more thrilled to see what happens next.
“Stranger Things” is one of the easiest binges in recent memory. I blew through all eight episodes and devoured everything in this wonderful series. Recently, I have been complaining about the fate of kids films today. They are mostly dull, animated and slapstick stupid, with poop and fart jokes that are tasteless and mind numbing. When I was a kid, I was into the adventure stories like “E.T.” or “The Goonies.” There are very few kids on bikes adventures stories which is such a shame, but “Stranger Things” is that and so much more. This is a phenomenal television show and I implore you to check this series out. Netflix has done it once again with “Stranger Things,” and this show should be streamed and binged by all. Bring on season 2!