Binge-watchers have had their nostalgia levels raised higher than usual recently, courtesy of Netflix’s new supernatural addition, Stranger Things.
Set in 1980s Indiana, eerie things are going on when a boy goes missing and his three friends attempt their own search and rescue mission. Upon losing a pal, the trio meet an ally in the silent and specially gifted girl named Ell who could hold the answer as to where he is, and what the hell is going on in their town.
Already critics have plowed through the show and come out with two thumbs up on the other side. Built upon great performances and a story that delivers, the next question to ask is when we’re getting a second season? Whilst the House of N haven’t confirmed that just yet, here’s seven reasons for the uninitiated as to why you should be jumping on Stranger Things as soon as possible.
1. The Sights
Cast a lens on any corner of the Stranger Things world, and it’s hard not to find a nod to the classic cinematic era it’s set in. The Duffer Brothers are gushing over the 80s and it’s a love that comes shining through. Besides looking like a bunch of youngsters E.T’s Elliot would definitely hang out with, these BMX-riding school outcasts look for answers to what’s going on by way of Star Wars and X-Men comic books.
Amazed by 22-inch televisions and conversing over walkie-talkies, it’s a golden age that’s sorely missed and the creators do a great job of showing us why. But not only does it look like a world built on the foundations of Spielberg, Lucas and in its darkest corners, Stephen King, it sounds like one too.
2. The Sounds
With all the wondrous moments tipping their hat to the likes of George and Steven, one other filmmaker that gets plenty of props in Stranger Things is John Carpenter. The Thing and Halloween director’s tone rests gently over the entire series thanks to a sinister supernatural element that is at work.
Amidst the great additions of David Bowie and Joy Division, a familiar thud of Carpenter’s classic musical melodies breaks in between them all. Anyone that can hum The Thing or Assault On Precinct 13 will have their ears prick up on more than one occasion, making it crystal clear to the audience that this isn’t one for all the family. The Duffer Bros send shivers down the same spinal route as Carpenter did and you’ll love them for it - that and the 80s playlist you’ll be searching for on Spotify as soon as its over.
3. Mother Knows Best
Big stars going the route of the small screen is nothing new lately, with some of the best stories being told on television rather than in theatres. Thankfully there was something special about Stranger Things that caught the attention of Winona Ryder's eye that has given the opportunity to show a talent that's been sorely missed.
Playing the distressed mother to a missing son, Ryder's role is one that improves with every episode and reaches a real high in the show’s closing chapters. Channelling a strong maternal role not too dissimilar to JoBeth Williams in Poltergeist (she even goes as far as trying to contact her child from the great beyond) Stranger Things is a great welcome back and a fitting role you'll hope to see more of.
4. Harbouring a Hero
Whilst Ryder has had some time out of the spotlight, one cast member that has always been lingering nearby it is David Harbour. Bringing a weight to any appearance with the likes of End of Watch and Newsroom, Harbour finds a challenge in the role of Chief Hooper and tackles it brilliantly.
Waking up to our story surrounded by half empty beer cans and a desperate need for a shower, Harbour is the down on his luck hero we're familiar with and certifies it with a sternness and authority that makes you glad this town has him as a Sheriff. Haunted by a history that's only glanced at, there's enough behind the eyes to suggest this lawman hasn't had the best luck, making him the one good cop with nothing to lose, and isn't that the best kind?
5. Getting You Ready For It
Interestingly, whilst a handful of filmmakers get their respect throughout the series, Stranger Things isn't without bowing its head to the King, either. Sending our young heroes off on a journey that may or may not lead them to finding a dead body like in Stand By Me, the terror that hangs over the town that only the kids know about also echoes Stephen King's other childhood spine-chiller, It.
For Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler it's the perfect preparation, because he's landed the lead role in the upcoming adaptation of the classic horror. Admittedly he's not as strong as he could be in the role, but when the time comes to take the training wheels off, he'll be ready for the role of Leader of the Losers, Bill Denborough. Hi-Ho, Silver!
6. Not Too Familiar
As previously mentioned, Stranger Things is a supernatural walk down memory lane for fans of the 80s, but that’s not to say it sticks to that path. Some of the most impressive times are when the show takes a daring diversion away from what you were expecting. There’s a handful of archetypes wandering around in Stranger Things that looked to have been plucked from other tales you might be familiar with, then they go and give them an interesting tweak you weren’t expecting.
Motivations shift and bonds break and build in ways you wouldn’t predict for a project so tied to the 80s but up to date in its way of thinking. The Duffers may have taken the best bits from time gone by, but some of the highlights have come from their ingeniously creative minds. So, who wants some more?
7. Things Will Get Stranger
Turning up in only an 8-episode package this year, it’s safe to say that the response from Stranger Things will no doubt leave Netflix signing off on the shows return, particularly because of how things are left.
No spoilers here of course, but there are enough interesting threads left dangling in the wind to make you want to head back to Indiana. Of course who’s to say it will be so soon? Considering that they’ve done so well handling that era, there’s a chance the shows creators might cast their net a little wider and the 90s could get a look in too. Hey, it’s only a matter of time. Who knows what will happen in this crazy upside-down world. My advice is get prepared and start the show ASAP.
Finished the show yet? Or just starting to see what all the fuss is about? Voice your spoiler-free thoughts on Stranger Things below.