The chances are you may have heard of a little show called Stranger Things, which surprisingly took us all by storm this summer and left us yearning for more.
The Netflix Original series, created by the Duffer brothers, is set in 1983 in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. It revolves around a group of kids looking for their friend Will, whom one-night vanishes into thin air while cycling home, sending mother Joyce into hysterics (played by wonderfully unhinged Winona Ryder). This mysterious incident sets a series of bizarre events into motion in the sleepy town, which unfolds in this 8 part sci-fi/horror drama.
Afraid and paranoid of what might have become of her boy, Joyce approaches town sheriff (the only cop with a brain apparently) Hopper to organise a frantic search. In the coming days, a girl vanishes and a man commits suicide and the prolonged disappearance of Will pushes Joyce towards the verge of insanity.
The main pre-teen protagonists, Will’s three best friends, take it upon themselves to find and rescue Will. However, their search takes an unexpected turn when the trio come across a mysterious girl with a shaven head lost in the woods with powerful abilities.
The deeply layered and rich storyline cleverly interweaves the different storylines within the show to explain the sci-fi stuff taking place, that is unique and more than just ‘aliens’. It is told through a familiar yet dark and alluring 1980’s atmosphere, complete with music, movie, and literary references. The show is inspired and aesthetically informed by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and John Carpenter, among others. This really transcends through to the audience, as there’s a strong vibe of the classics ‘E.T.’, ‘The Goonies’ and the likes. It is a genre throwback to a much simpler time with heroes, villains, and monsters, and is able to keep the balance between adult grief and childhood innocence.
There’s a heavy dose of suspense and a real sense of foreboding skillfully managed and mastered by the Duffer brothers as the story progresses. Not only is it blessed with a gripping script but also the cast is truly phenomenal. Winona Ryder as the hysteric and paranoid mother delivers a strong performance that even the audience is compelled to deem her to be insane despite empathising with her grief. But the heart of the show really lies with its younger cast, Will’s three best friends, who bring equal doses of innocence, humour, and vulnerability into the show. However, on top of the pile has to be mysterious girl Eleven, with her compelling performance marking her as one of the unique fresh talents to have emerged onto the scene.
The series has been dubbed as a ‘love letter to the supernatural classics of the 1980’s’ that would not have reached the big screen today as Hollywood insists on pummeling us with remakes, endless sequels, and superhero franchises. Stranger Things is proof that summer blockbusters needn’t be overbearing and deafening but instead can be spellbinding, shooting nostalgia right through the viewer’s hearts.
Pug-Rating: 5/5 pugs