Official synopsis courtesy IMDb: In a small town where everyone knows everyone, a peculiar incident starts a chain of events that leads to the disappearance of a child – which begins to tear at the fabric of an otherwise peaceful community. Dark government agencies and seemingly malevolent supernatural forces converge on the town, while a few locals begin to understand that there’s more going on than meets the eye. Trailer For Stranger Things
Due to my busy lifestyle and short attention span, I’ve left a string of unfinished TV shows in my wake over the past year. Even though I’m in love with this new wave of high quality TV shows available through streaming, movies are just more compliant with late nights and ADD. So if a TV show is able to suck me in and hold my attention long enough for me to knock out a season in a few days, then in my book that’s a great show. Netflix’s new hit Stranger Things was able to do just that!
In fairness, I should address something first. The Duffer Brothers, who helped write, produce and direct this series clearly set out to not only tell an amazing story but to create an homage to 80’s cinema. As somebody who has a blog called VIA VHS adorned with a Back To The Future Delorean as it’s header image, I was quite obviously the target demographic for a throwback to the 80’s. Not only is this series set in 1983 but stylistically it oozes the 1980’s from the onset, right down to the intro graphics and score. In addition, Stranger Things goes out of it’s way to honor Stephen King with it’s story and practically worship Steven Spielberg in every other way. Flashlights, daddy issues, attractive moms, teenage love, close-ups of faces in awe, a small rural town, children heroes and almost every other Spielberg trope was available at some point, and I ate it all up. Imagine Stephen King’s IT meets Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Stranger Things.
To even things out, while this show can’t be categorized into one genre, splashing in Mystery, Action and Paranormal elements, it also features Horror, which overall is my personal least favorite genre. So hopefully that balances the power with my 80’s obsession. Although I have to say, the horror elements of this show were executed very well and I would often realize I was watching in awe with mouth agape at the end of some of those scenes. Something horror rarely achieves for me and really only The Conjuring and The Shining have been able to do.
The cast is great from top to bottom, including great performances by Winona Rider, David Harbour and a batch of very impressive newcomers. I was especially impressed with the child actors and I’ll spare you an assessment of each individual performance with the exception of one, the absolute standout Millie Brown as the character called “Eleven” or El for short. This kid has to be one of the best child actors I’ve ever seen. Her character is awarded limited dialogue due to elements of her backstory, which I’ll let you discover yourself. That doesn’t stop Millie from conveying a wide range of emotions with her facial expressions, stealing almost every scene she is in. I was floored by her ability to do things some veteran actors struggle with and I expect big things for Millie Brown in the future.The story was engaging from beginning to end and filled with well developed characters who I was invested in. Several twists and turns will keep you guessing along the way but a few plot points are a little predictable as well. Even so the entertainment value in the show will outshine the few noticeable flaws. One major problem is the show’s inability to address a story arc very similar to the one the show is centered around, it’s addressed from time to time but oddly ignored for such a seemingly significant element to the story.
The ending will leave you wanting more and although it’s a little disappointing, the clear intention is to leave the door open for more story down the road, which I for one can’t wait for. If you plan on watching Stranger Things make sure your schedule is binge ready, because it’s very hard to stop watching. While I loved House of Cards and Bloodline, I have to say that Stranger Things is now my favorite Netflix original and is potentially it’s newest big hit.