A homage to 80’s horror done right.
There has been quite a reaction to the new Netflix exclusive Stranger Things. It seems that every other post on Facebook was about somebody watching and raving about it, and so, as the credits roll on the final episode, I feel ready to give my verdict to go with the zillion others out there right now.If, like me you were a child of the 80’s, then you will immediately fall in love with the tone of this series right from the start. Everything from the set and costume design to the sinister synth tones of the opening title sequence takes the viewer back to the days of The Goonies, E.T, Eirie India and of course the Horror Movies of that era. There are no mobile phones or Pokemon Go here, but BMX bikes and the great outdoors.
The plot centres around a young boy called Mike, who, after an evening playing dungeons and Dragons with his friends, cycles home. On the way, he encounters something in the woods which follows him home. The unseen entity follows Mike to the shed, where after a tense standoff he disappears into thin air. What follows is the search for Mike as things grow more and more strange and tense by the episode. His friends Finn Wolfhard (Mike) Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) and Gaten Mattarazzo (Dustin) who are a Goonies like bunch if ever there was one, stumble across a young girl in the woods when out looking for Mike. she is shaven headed and confused, marked by a tattooed 11 on her wrist (played expertly and with haunting conviction by 12 year old Millie Brown) who seems to have strange mind bending powers not unlike a certain girl in a certain Stephen King novel. The interplay between the kids is charming and often funny, which are moments offset by the traumatic breakdown of Mike’s mother, played with superb believability by Winona Ryder in what has to be one of her strongest career performances to date.
As this is a spoiler free review, i don’t really want to go too deeply into the details of the plot (as it would spoil your enjoyment of watching. As the search for Will goes on and Mike and the rest of the kids get to know the mysterious Eleven, the supporting cast are left with plenty to do. David Harbour is the town sheriff, who finds that his simple case of a missing child has started to grow into something much more intricate and potentially deadly. Natalie Dyer’s performance as the quiet desperate to do get with the in crowd Nancy Wheeler is also worthy of note, as her struggle for acceptance and eventual involvement in the overall storyline weaves in and out of the main narrative before all of the separate threads come together for the finale and the mystery is finally revealed.
If 80’s nostalgia is your thing, and you are a fan of 80’s Spielberg of the movie adaptations of Stephen king, then this is definitely worth checking out. If not, check it out anyway, if only for the soundtrack. True, Stranger Things doesn’t tread any new ground, and there are many elements you have seen before, but in a world where people spend their days chasing pokemon and staring at their computer screens, it’s refreshing to go to a time when such things didn’t happen. Thankfully, Stranger Things has been renewed for a second season, and i for one will be watching.
Well worth a watch and a wonderful homage to the 80’s. Recommended.