Stranger Things has quickly become hot topic TV. Since it's debut on July 15th this year, Netlfix watchers have been glued to their screens, eager to solve the mysterious goings ons in sleepy town, Hawkins.
The show has created such a buzz about '80s nostalgia and government conspiracy theories that it seems everyone is talking about this hit show. Stranger Things's key demographic is unclear as teens, adults and older folks are infatuated with the show. Which brings us to the question, is Stranger Things too scary for children?
A recent report made by Common Sense Media has looked at all the factors that render this show inappropriate for anyone under the age of 14 years old. They cover everything from swearing, sex, violence, role models and alcohol/drug consumption.
What they didn't look at was the suspense and supernatural forces that run through the very heart of the show. I have no qualm in admitting I can't watch it alone without being shaken up and I'm 27, so let's take a look, if you're brave enough, at all the times Stranger Things was pure nightmare fodder.
WARNING: All the spoilers lie beneath so go ahead at your peril
1. The Beginning
What could possibly go wrong here? Establishing shots, meet a few characters? Nope! They don't mess around, it's terrifying from the off. Darkness, the feeling of being chased, mysterious sounds, basically everything we're biologically programmed to be scared of, and they just served up a huge dollop of it. Definitely not child-friendly:
You just about manage to get over the creepy lab scenes with some playful kids and Dungeons and Dragons, and what happens? They throw another terrifying scene at you, the mysterious deformed figure in the fog, the child running for his life, the dog going mental, the way the figure unlocks the door from outside. The sheer fear in Will's eyes as he looks upon his predator and then poof, vanished with the flashing of the light-bulb. THIS ALL HAPPENS IN THE FIRST EIGHT MINUTES.
You could argue that we're all becoming desensitised to things like this due to over exposure. However, you have to admit this is scary and anyone under the age of 15 would probably be more than a little frightened turning their bedroom light off to go to sleep after watching this.
How about no?
The story behind Eleven unfolds over the episodes but on first glance, she's pretty terrifying. A small, skinny, pale girl with a shaved head appears in dirty hospital clothes out of nowhere and starts eating food at the speed of a wild animal. That in itself is pretty creepy. Most children probably wouldn't talk to Eleven if she just appeared on their playground, and any child that would talk to her is probably as messed up as poor Eleven.
Eleven barely talks and then we're suddenly introduced to the fact she has telekinetic powers which sounds pretty cool, but not when she is locking you in the room out of rage, crushing men's skulls or making you piss yourself in front of the whole school. You don't want to cross Eleven, bitches be cray!
Arguably the most upsetting scene is her flashback memory to when her 'father' is leaving her at some sort of facility with these scary men in white. Every child's fear realized; being separated from your parents, being locked up and left in the dark, then being painfully experimented on. Your identity stripped from you and being reduced to a number. Cue many wet beds after seeing that part.
Sure, Eleven is a sympathetic character and we are all totally routing for her, but that doesn't mean she isn't also deeply unsettling and emotionally overwhelming.
3. Barb: 0, The F**king Monster: 1
Nope, just plain nope. I want no part in this. Poor Barb, goes to a party to help her friend get laid — even though she clearly fancies a bit of Nancy's Nancy — and what happens to her? I mean we've all woken up after a heavy night in a less than desirable place, but this takes it to another level. The monster is terrifying, no matter what age you are. For a child, I imagine this is the end of the world scary and that kid would definitely not be sleeping in their own bed for a long time.
Children are terrified of imaginary monsters the best of times and here we have a full-blown monster at large on the screen. The shadowy beast has been horrible from the off and even now whenever I turn the light off in a room and look back, I'm adamant there is a figure lurking in the shadows.
Why does poor Barb have to die? Is the monster systematically taking the kids in order of bad haircuts? What sick government programme has created this? Is this Trump in his original form? All we know is, we want JUSTICE FOR BARB.
4. Christmas Betrayed You
This is the Child Catcher all over again. Something you love leads you to danger — in this circumstance it's dancing Christmas lights. I know I'd probably follow them. Stranger Things has taught me to trust nothing and know you are at danger at all times. To put it bluntly, you're screwed. There is something very scary about the innocence of a child being used for something horrific. Fortunately, Holly is at the age where parents are never far behind. Once you get to about eight, you're on your own!
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5. Mommy And Her Axe
Everything about this shot is unnerving. Joyce is the very image of an unhinged mother. The alphabet writing on the wall harks back to The Shining. Would you show your child The Shining? Probably not. Admittedly Joyce, isn't the bad guy, but moments like this show how someone meek and mild can change when those they love are threatened. Some call it motherly love, right here it just looks plain scary.
Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Stranger Things, despite a few moments of pure fear. I would have to say this is most definitely not appropriate for children, arguably up until the age of 15. If you want to show your children, I'm not going to stop you, but be it on your heads.
Do you think Stranger Things is scary? Or am I just a wimp?
Sources: (Common Sense Media)