So I read a snapshot summary of Stranger Things from another internet word pit and wasn’t really enthused, then I followed the good ol word of mouth review method and heard people heaping praise on ‘Stranger things’ so of course now I had to watch it and jeez I’ve not enjoyed a program that much in a looooong time.
It’s an 80’s homage and while I won’t bore you with highlighting all the different ways they achieve the 80’s effect, they have achieved just that and you truly believe the world and the events that unfold within it. One point I will make is the synth sounds that build up suspense and transitions between different elements of the story, top-notch and go a long way to achieving the 80’s effect.
A bit about the story (not a lot though it deserves to be kept under wraps), the Netflix original series created by the Duffer brothers focuses primarily around a group of children who are delightfully nerdy and following an intense of game Dungeons and Dragons make their way home; during this time young byers mysteriously vanishes following an altercation of some description with some strange thing (see what I did). What follows is the hunt for young byers which gradually consumes family, friends and local law enforcement but central to the hunt and the revelations within it are the group of children and the mysterious, gifted ‘Eleven’ whose appearance is equally as strange.
A true shining light in the arsenal of ‘Stranger Things’ is the calibre of the child actors; I hate kid actors (I know it sounds harsh) but I really struggle to get involved and suspend my disbelief however the kids are all genuinely convincing with very unique personalities. A shout out here for Dustin whose character absolutely killed me … highlight of the series, humerus and intelligent while constantly reinforcing the importance of the group sticking together!
For a long time in ‘Stranger Things’ your not really sure how any of it fits together; who is the monster, where is Will Byers, Where did Eleven come from and what is the Hawkins Department for Energy actually doing and by the time you reach the end not all of these questions are answered (*cough* Season 2 *cough*) however enough of them are answered enough to provide a satisfying pay-off.
Without giving much away the artistic styling of the stranger things that occur in ‘Stranger Things’ is truly terrifying, the sort of things that should make you afraid from flickering lights to morphing walls each episode contains a narrative device that ramps up the feeling of terror that bit more. The mother of Will Byers has a strong storyline that sees her connect with her son in ways that appear paranormal as opposed to those encounters of the fourth kind and that above all else is the truly haunting pinnacle of ‘Stranger Things’ even when the credits role on the finale we still aren’t sure how or what has terrified the town of Hawkins.
The only gripe I have is the complete lack of development for the mysterious government operation that work out of the ‘Hawkins Department for Energy’ now in some ways I get it, it could be a season 2 thing or it could be to echo the narrative view of the children, focus on Will and Eleven as opposed to the ‘bad people’. However I still want to know about Eleven, why, how and does it link to the rest of things in Hawkins or not?
Overall, I was a happy customer who has been pleasantly surprised by the truly gripping performances of kids who had found themselves locked in a Tardis and dumped out in a perfect 80’s world. Stranger Things always seems to understand itself (not always the case for debut seasons) it knows exactly what it wants to do and what it wants to reveal…. whether it was enough to buy a return ticket to Hawkins only time will tell.