TV Review: Stranger Things (2016)

Stranger Things 1A Netflix Series Reviewed by Kerry E.B. Black

“Stranger Things” starts off with a flashback bang, a scientist frantic to leave a facility with flashing lights and ominous sirens. Action moves on to a nostalgic-feeling small Indiana town and a group of nerdy twelve-year-olds. When one of their group, Will (Noah Schnapp), doesn’t return from a Dungeons and Dragons gathering, his single mother Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) seeks help from the police who inform her in 99 out of 100 cases, the missing kids is with his parent. “What happens the other time?” She demands. This series explores the 100th case, and so much more. The continued investigation reveals secret government experiments, turns up a claustrophobic little girl (Millie B. Brown) named 011 with extraordinary powers, and supernatural worlds.
Against their parents’ wishes and orders by the Police, the kids, headed by Mike (Finn Wolfhard), search for their friend, dancing closer to dangerous and unexplainably “Stranger Things.”
Stranger Things 2Engaging characters, good acting, a Goonies-like feel, and an authenticity of motivation makes “Stranger Things” an interesting viewing experience. Each episode written, produced, and directed by the Duffer Brothers seems like an installment in a series, building the tension and sentimentally nodding to horror from the 1980’s. The first season consists of eight creepy-fun episodes that aired on 15 July, 2016, all punctuated by a brilliant soundtrack.

2 Replies to “TV Review: Stranger Things (2016)”

  1. After reading the title Stranger Things on Facebook for just over a week, I decided to have a gander at it, and opened up my Netflix to see if it was on there. Sure enough, it was. Happy me! So, I pressed the ‘Select’ button for the first episode, and found myself in a very normal world from days gone by, and oh, how happy that made me. The days when parents weren’t snubbed at for allowing their kids to enjoy horror movies like Freddy and Poltergeist. I was five when I first watched Freddy, who is one of my greatest loves. I was a petite little kid who had long blonde hair, and so while my friends played hide-and-seek and kirby, I was *always* Carol Anne outsmarting The Beast.

    Will Byers’ mother getting him Poltergeist tickets is one of my absolute favourite moments in the whole series because it was so Little Me. I wanted no part of Disney or Care Bears and My Little Pony. I was Vengeance The Demon (Now called Pumpkin Head), I was Friday the 13th and Evil Dead. I was downright ELATED to see that vital part of the 80’s in Stranger Things, almost embarrassingly so.

    The series for me, however, isn’t without its flaws. The first four and a half episodes are slow in many areas, and definitely drag out, but the casually simmering intrigue kept me absolutely hooked, and I watched all eight episodes back-to-back. There is brilliant character growth in the show from all sides, most notably Joyce Byers, played brilliantly by Winona Ryder.

    When she began to fight for her own sanity against everyone, from her eldest son to Hopper, I was screaming right along with her. Joyce Byers is the very epitome of 80’s slasher movie final girl, who has the guts to not only stick to her guns and convictions, but to also takes an axe to a dimensional wall, ready to unleash hell on whatever is holding her son. Then, in the same scene, has the strength to know retreat and tells her son to hide until she can get to him, and as if that wasn’t enough, she takes all that strength and throws it in the face of an asshole ex-husband who uses her anxiety as a scare tactic.

    The character of Joyce Byers is positively genius, and Winona Ryder did herself proud with how she pulled it off. She really needs to give herself a solid pat on the back for a job more than well blood done, I tell you.

    There were a couple of characters who aggravated me a little, and one of those was Mike’s dad. He felt almost like an extra to me as he slept in his Lazyboy while his wife dealt with everything else. I would have liked to have seen more from dad, but even he showed promise towards the end when Ted took hold of Karen’s hand. More could have been done and said about the poor plot point that was Barbara Holland, while the character of Steve Harrington was on point as the zero-to-hero jock who came to the rescue of Nancy Wheeler and Jonathon Byers.

    I’m now making both my mother and granda watch Stranger Things because it is, in a nutshell, bloody brilliant, and I highly anticipate season 2!

  2. I don’t know how, but I forget to mention the fantastic and amazing talent of all the young cast members. Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, and Noah Schnapp. There isn’t enough praise in the world for these five, there just isn’t. They were brilliant from start to finish. I loved the scrap between Lucas and Mike, Dustin as the voice of reason, and Eleven as the superhero who helps bring the four friends together again.

    Given the ending of Stranger Things, I’m left to assume Eleven is still very much alive and currently in hiding from those who would use her for their own agendas, and it will be mighty interesting to see how she comes into season 2.

    I’m also wondering about the other ten. If she is Eleven, then surely there are others just like her, either in Hawkins lab or elsewhere.

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