Netflix's Stranger Things has blown us all away with its wonderful mix of storytelling, nostalgia and an incredible cast. Through the lens of classic science fiction and iconic movie imagery, the show's universe is at once incredibly fresh and familiar to us. We were also introduced to something else; the Upside Down, a dark and terrifying mirror image of 1980s Indiana.
What Do We Know About The Upside Down?
The most terrifying part of Upside Down is that we know almost nothing about it, other than that it's a shadow world side-by-side with our own; invisible, bleak, terrifying and yet so familiar — with a certain monster roaming within.
What we also tend to forget is there there are actually two Upside Down worlds — the one Will gets trapped in, and the one Eleven can enter safely — the latter of which is clearly the most unstable, as that's what tore the portal between our world and the creatures. We know that the Upside Down is home to a monster which feeds on the people and animals of our world, but we don't know how it sates its hunger in its own world. We know that the air is toxic and long exposure may lead to death. We know that it's possible to contact this dimension through electricity and radio waves. If Season 2 is in the works, I want to know more about this shadow dimension on the fringes of our own.
Could It Really Exist?
Well, yes. Physicists speculate that there are billions of dimensions all packed in around us (known as the Multiverse), and this real theory is the basis of the Upside Down, and links to Mr. Clarke's explanation of how it's possible to travel between them:
But as horror and sci-fi have shown us over the years, Will Byers is not the first human from our world to stumble into a new dimension. The idea of getting 'stuck' somewhere so horrifying yet so familiar with no way out is an unfathomable hell, one which Will, Nancy and Barb (R.I.P.) know all too well. Here are five other examples of parallel universes that some poor souls may not been so lucky to escape...
1. The Astral Plane - Insidious (2011)
While Josh Lambert chose to enter the astral plane to save his son, that doesn't mean it was easy to get out. This spirit realm is made even more terrifying by its closeness to our own world, and by its links to philosophy, religion and Dante's Divine Comedy.
2. Ghost Dimension - Poltergeist (1982)
"Join us Carol Anne..." In Poltergeist, youngest daughter Carol Anne is contacted by spirits through her TV and eventually finds herself trapped in another dimension. Stranger Things has also been called an "8-hour Steven Spielberg movie," and Spielberg co-wrote and produced the original 1982 fright fest.
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3. The Bath House - Spirited Away (2001)
Okay, so Spirited Away isn't a horror movie, but that doesn't make the distorted and bizarre world of the Bath House any less unnerving. No Face, piggy parents and the feeling of helplessness Chihiro feels makes the Bath House an alternative plane I'd rather not end up on.
4. The Mist - The Mist (2007)
Stephen King has been outspoken in his praise for Stranger Things, and many have drawn parallels between his work and the Netflix series.
The Mist is an example of something other worldly encroaching on our reality. While unexplained, the mist found its way through the cracks in our dimension, bringing with it the plethora of beasties within.
5. Silent Hill - Silent Hill (1999)
The ultimate Japanese horror game turned movie franchise, Silent Hill is a place you do not want to end up. Arguably the most horrifying entry on this list, Silent Hill features so many horrors that you'd be lucky to survive there a few minutes. Pyramid Head alone is enough to deter any dimension-hopping adventurer.
Stranger Things left us with a multitude of unanswered questions. What happened to Eleven? Why was Barb forgotten about so quickly? Is Will permanently linked to the Upside Down? Let's hope that the shows' success has secured a second season to have all of these questions answered, and perhaps another visit to a terrifying new dimension.