Thoughts on: Stranger Things

Netflix has once again struck gold with the Duffer brothers’ Stranger Things, a show that evokes everything from E.T. to the novels of Stephen King, yet manages to create something just as fantastic and frightening.

Narrative

If you’ve ever read any early Stephen King then you’ve already got an idea of Stranger Things is about. It’s very much concerned with the supernatural and the surreal, with some mild horror thrown in for good measure.

Set in 1983, the plot revolves around around a town’s efforts to find a young boy who has disappeared. But all isn’t as it seems, and as the narrative progresses the show really starts to live up to its title. But that’s all I’m going to say: it’s really best if you go into the show blind.

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Should I stay or should I go now…

Direction

Everything about Stranger Things is sleek and slick. Whether it’s the forensic amount of detail paid to the early-eighties setting or the tense synthwave soundtrack, it all blends together to form a very compelling final product. If you’re vigilant enough, you’ll also notice a few pop culture references, with E.T. and Carrie perhaps being the most obvious. Admittedly, these homages do stray down the uncanny valley from time to time, but it’s really doesn’t do much to harm the overall flow and feel of the show. It very much managed to secure its own distinct identity.

Performances

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It’s been some time since Winona Ryder has had such a great role to sink her teeth into

As with everything else about this show, the performances here are top notch. From Winona Ryder’s portrayal of the skittish Joyce Byers to the loyal group of kids determined to find their friend, all felt real and believable. And it goes without saying that Millie Bobby Brown is superb as the supernatural girl with a troubled past, Eleven.

It’s also interesting to see how certain characters change over time. David Harbour’s Jim Hopper, for instance, whose transformation from surly cop to determined saviour in the space of just eight episodes is really quite interesting to watch, and is one of many ways in which they show keeps you coming back for more.

In a few words…

If you’re a Netflix subscriber it would certainly be the strangest thing if you were not to give this nascent marvel a chance.

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