by Henry Hill
The newest Netflix Original series Stranger Things is a terrific throwback to the Spielberg movies of the ‘80s. Think Goonies meets E.T. Meets John Carpenter’s The Thing. Featuring a Carpenter-esque theme song and score, Stranger Things is full of horror, mystery, drama and most of all, fun. It is full of fun easter eggs that will have viewers pausing and rewinding to see what they can spot in the background. Posters for films like Jaws and The Evil Dead hang on the walls in the kids bedrooms and The Clash’s hit 1982 song “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is played on the record player. Needless to say, after five episodes I am hooked.
The story revolves around a group of friends who are hanging out one night when one of them mysteriously vanishes. There is a secretive governmental facility in the same town where a creature has gotten loose and is shown chasing down and catching a scientist. The mother of the boy who goes missing, Joyce Byers, is played by the very popular actress of the ‘80s, Winona Ryder. Another popular actor from that generation, Matthew Modine, plays Dr. Martin Brenner, the nefarious head scientist of the secret facility. The town’s sheriff Chief Jim Hopper is played by David Harbour. Harbour usually plays a supporting character in his films, but in Stranger Things he gets to star and he does some really solid work playing the multidimensional chief who is reluctant to believe the distraught mother who claims to experience some really crazy things after her son goes missing. He himself had a child that died and he relates to Joyce and has a lot of inner demons he is dealing with that adds some depth to what could have been a generic character.
The casting director deserves recognition for putting together a great cast of fairly unknown actors. A lot of the time the weakest link of a film or show is the child actors, but that isn’t the case on this show. Each one of the kids are witty, charming and intelligent and you really believe the bond that they have together as friends on screen. Winona Ryder has a very emotionally demanding role and she really sells you on how much pain and desperation she has to deal with. Hollywood will be reminded how talented of an actress she is and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her a lot more than we have on screen recently. A story like this can only work if you have compassion for and find similarities to yourself in the characters and the actors playing them. It only took an episode or two and I found myself fully invested in the characters.
Stranger Things proves that TV and Netflix are becoming a great alternative to the typical two hour films where the story has to be told within a short amount of time. With eight nearly hour long episodes, The Duffer Brothers were able to tell a broader story and give us more time with these complex characters. Stranger Things was so much fun to watch and moves at such a fast pace that I know the second that I finish the last episode I’ll be clamoring for more. Let’s hope my opinion of the show is the same as the majority that watch it because this is one of those shows that I hope goes on for a lengthy run. I give Stranger Things 5/5 hairpieces and I’d like to commend everyone involved in the making of the show for delivering a project that made me feel the same nostalgia as the classic films of the ‘80s.