I grew up in the 80s, meaning I get nostalgic about cassette tapes and walkie-talkies. I also like horror, a lot. A horror series set in the 80s is definitely my kind of thing. With that caveat in place: I absolutely loved the new Netflix series Stranger Things.
Stranger Things is Silent Hill meets Stephen King sometime in the 80s, directed by Spielberg.
The premise is simple: a boy, Will Byers, goes missing without a trace late one evening. His mother, Joyce, cycles through grief, desperation and rage as she refuses to give him up for dead. His teenaged brother, Jonathan, a loner, struggles with his mother’s apparent madness, yet slowly begins to suspect that she is telling the truth. Will’s three friends, fuelled by Dungeons & Dragons imagery, are joined by a stranger, the eerie girl Eleven, in their quest to find answers. Everybody says Will Byers is dead. There even was a funeral. Yet if you listen closely you can hear noises, and something’s moving in the dark..
With the strong influences from iconic 80s imagery and the inclusion of quite a few tropes (some of which are satisfactorily subverted), Stranger Things could easily have been derivative and stale. Yet it felt fresh in spite of its familiar components: like an old friend with a new story to tell. The pacing was great, moving effortlessly between outright horror and tense psychological thriller, with even a few lighter high-school moments to take the edge off. The scares were effective and cleverly done. And the ending… well, the ending was pitch perfect.
I’ll deduct points for length, however. It should have been longer. A second season, if you please, Netflix!