“There is no prize like a sur-prize.”
I love when you have no idea that something right up your alley is being made. It comes out and sweeps you up into a frenzy of hugs and kisses.
A mix of 1980’s love and horror, Stranger Things harkens back to my childhood of cinema (look at that poster!). Heavy homages to Spielberg and his various collaborations and contemporaries, I couldn’t believe what I was watching. It’s like going back in time and seeing a 1980’s series that had a stupid budget and access to VFX that didn’t exist yet.
It’s 1983 and Will is riding his bike home after playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends. In a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Will encounters something that escaped from a secret government project. His friends and family must unravel a local mystery and face a terrible darkness to get him back.
I love way more of Stranger Things than I don’t. So I’ll knock out the negatives in one sentence. Some of the effects are dodgy and there are some cliched “character making dumb decisions in a horror movie” moments.
The cast is awesome. It’s headlined by Wynona Ryder and Matthew Modine, but the real stars are the kids. The main five in particular: Will, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven. The whole season rides on them and they are great. Chemistry you pray for when you do casting. These kids are a new generation of The Lost Boys, Goonies, and Stand By Me.
At 8 episodes, I think they nailed just the right timing to tell their story. Enough time to establish characters, set down the threads of the mystery, have all the threads lead each investigative team (the kids, the brother and sister, the adults) together and then the finale. It’s funny, spooky, scary and exciting in all the right measures. Just enough is explained while leaving a good amount of mystery and hook for another season (I’d actually be fine if they went the anthology route with this like Tales From The Crypt. The title isn’t tied to the plot).
There is a silly amount of references to movies, books, and series of years past. There are long articles out there that go into just that. The music is perfect, the show is often gorgeous (really dig the ashy haze of The Upside Down), great production and The Duffer Brothers are killer directors.
Watch it! This is the kind of original content that gets people to subscribe to Netflix. It’s all the rage for good reason. If this was a movie, I’d say it would be rated PG-13 for its content, so keep that in mind if you have kids.