Stramger Things is a period piece science-fiction horror thriller television series created by The Duffer Brothers. The eight-episode first season premiered on Netflix in July 2016 to near-universal acclaim. The series stars Winnona Ryder, David Harbor, and Matthew Modine. Set in late 1983, Stranger Things revolves around the mysterious sudden disappearance of young tween Will Byers and the sudden appearence of a young girl with a mysterious past and strange powers.
Stranger Things seems to be somewhat of a spiritual successor to JJ Abrams’ 2011 film Super 8, which tells the story of three tween friends who stumble upon the supernatural in 1979 Ohio. Super 8 has developed a cult following for creating a viable and interesting science-fiction story enhanced with period-accurate nostalgia. Stranger Things does exactly that. It is an engrossing story with a very catchy synth soundtrack.
The story is actually a very interesting fusion of genres. While primarily a science-fiction story, the mystery of Will Byers is approached by several different characters or groups of characters in several different ways. Will’s friends and Eleven are in E.T. and The Breakfast Club, as the social pressures of being a nerdy outcast play a large role in the story, Will’s mom attempts to communicate with him through a variety of strange ways such as blinking lights, giving off a Poltergiest vibe, Will’s brother Johnathon and his romantic interest discover a monster connected to Will’s disappearence and end up having to battle it, similar to A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Chief John Hopper becomes embroiled in a government conspiracy involving MK Ultra. It is a mismash of popular 80’s film genres and is extremely well-done and provides interest and insight into various characters. While pulling from various popular films of the time, Stranger Things also flips various tropes of the genres on their head.
As you can see, Stranger Things makes quite the point of being nostalgic. I was not a child of the 80’s, but my uncle did seem to appreciate the attention to detail in a show billed as “a love letter to the eighties.” This aspect is very interesting and impressive. I continue to mention the addictive synth score, because it’s awesome.
The cinematography of the show is brilliantly done by one Tim Ives. Ives effectively uses lightinng in addition to the pulse-pounding and earworm-inducing synth heavy soundtrack to create a level of atmospheric tension that makes the show supremely addicting. Ives is able to use long shots and pan shots in certain scenes to amp up the creep factor and uses jump cuts and rapid editing to hype the action and keep the pacing. I binged watched this show in one day with my uncle and my friend Adam. As much as I like TV and movies, this was the first time I watched a show in one day. It is a great show that is very much worthy of a weekend binge-watch.