Latest posts by Jonathan Greenstein (see all)
I came into Netflix’s new sci-fi horror/thriller series with high hopes. Not being a stranger to watching Netflix’s original content, I started the first episode with the same expectations that the previous shows left me with. I’m going to give you a spoiler… I was not let down. If anything, I was more impressed. Balancing style and substance is no easy task and (for me at least) Stranger Things captured the Spielbergian atmosphere perfectly. To me, it was akin to returning to a favourite city but finding somewhere new to visit. Anyone who grew up watching the likes of The Goonies, Twin Peaks, E.T., X-Files, Poltergeist and even more modern films like Super 8 would find Stranger Things to be instantly familiar.
To provide a brief, spoiler-free summary – Stranger Thing’s was created by The Duffer brothers and tells the story of a Will Byers’ (Noah Schnapp) disappearance and the subsequent investigations by his mother (Winona Ryder), the police chief (David Harbour) and a group of young friends. As they are going about their inquiries, the main characters are also dealing with strange, other-worldly forces that may be involved in some way.
Stranger Things felt like a homage to the films and literature of the 1980’s and The Duffer Brothers pull that off well. It does have some distinct tropes (They all live in a movie ready town and the almost obligatory single parent just to name two) but I feel the show uses them proudly, unashamed of saying ‘you inspired this’, and creates something that audiences who didn’t grow up in the 1980’s can relate to and enjoy.
Not many TV shows give me the chills. There were times during Stranger Things that I felt a cold rush run down my back and my hair stood on end. Winona Ryder’s portrayal as Will’s mother was a great performance and I really enjoyed David Harbour’s police chief’s downward spiral. I found the three kids who make up the group of friends (Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo) to be engrossing and captivating. Watching them brought back memories of my own childhood. No, not the searching for a missing friend but watching films like The Goonies and such like. My overall favourite aspect about Stranger Things was the soundtrack. Oh what a soundtrack! Two episodes in and I had already found a Spotify playlist with most the tracks. From the pop songs of the 1970s & 1980’s to the almost Daft Punkesq synth that starts in the overture and runs throughout, the soundtrack to Stranger Things completed the feeling of immersion.
So, is Netflix’s Stranger Things perfect? Almost. It has some faults but to say they detract from the experience would be an outright lie. I’d highly recommend this show for anyone who enjoyed the sci-fi thrillers/Spielberg/Lucas films of the 1980’s or for people who want to be absorbed in a new show that’s been pulled off extremely well.