| When a young boy disappears, his mother, a sheriff, and his friends must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back.
Stranger Things, as mentioned in several other reviews, is the “fruit smoothie” of 80s culture. Take in a tablespoon of Stephen King, a few dashes of Spielberg, and a whole lot of 80s horror/thriller culture, blend it together and you essentially have this show. This series features kids, teens and adults and I really feel as if they are there to offer that enhanced sense of nostalgia. I certainly doubt it was to appeal to younger kids which this series is obviously not directed towards. Most of us have lived through such experiences and ordeals, so it offers that sense of ubiquitous normalcy, but which is set against the backdrop of complete chaos which shatters that false sense of security, the perfect way to create a reality-disrupting nightmare.
Character exploration is beautifully done, and most characters have idiosyncratic traits which makes them quite interesting. Each character’s history also ties into the main story line perfectly, leaving few loose ends. The acting is on point with some strong performances (especially the kids) and directing is brilliant in regards to the mood being created and the intricate details of the 80s era. Together they’ve certainly been able to create a wonderful and terrifying world with an original and fascinating story-line.
Production values are also quite good with some beautiful cinematography, editing, lighting and sound. My goodness I loved their music choices. I would say that the CGI does look a little obvious and from time to time I did notice some issues where the scenes didn’t look quite up to scratch. I do think however I’ve been spoiled for visual quality since Game of Thrones so I would take that criticism with a grain of salt because it certainly didn’t detract from the overall experience. The setting and style of everything in the locations where also great to see and felt real and interesting. The way everything was shot also captures every moment expertly and really helps to draw out those story moments with greater emotion.
My negatives with the show is Winona Ryder and the ending. Winona Ryder acts like a 70 year old lunatic witch with weird gestures and wide eyes. I understand the motivations of the character, but in my opinion she was just overdoing it WAY to much. The ending, however, this is all hypothetical and essentially not solid. The plot really showcases itself as a one season deal – however, the show creators already confirmed that season two would be a sequel to season 1. I felt that season one’s ending should have been more conclusive as opposed to purposely leaving many loose ends to pick up in season two. If season two does pick up these loose ends and thread them into something even more awesome, then it’s a win-win situation and I will be happy with season one’s ending.
Also, to nitpick, the underlying themes of “mystery” and “folklore” seem to be muddled and messy. Individually, the themes are very strong from an episode-to- episode basis; sadly, as a whole, the show really loses these themes and you’re left with a pure thriller-adventure as opposed to the cool dark sci-fi feeling.
It’s not perfect – it’s not. Some of the characters and subplots are hard to like, and the ending (to me) is not a real crowdpleaser and felt pushed in. Stranger Things is fresh and even with those little flaws, it is loads of fun to watch. Good job, Duffer Brothers.