stranger things

Stranger Things: X-Files Meets The Goonies & Has Stephen King’s Baby in Masterful Netflix Series [Review]

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From Netflix, creators Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer, comes the highly anticipated supernatural/coming-of-age mystery series Stranger Things. Starring Winona Ryder, Noah Schnapp, Matthew Modine, David Harbour, Charlie Heaton, Natalia Dyer, Millie Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo, and Cara Buono, the series is now available to stream all eight season 1 episodes. Season 2 has been greenlit but no release date has been announced.

A love letter to the ’80s classics that captivated a generation.” A Young boy (Noah Schnapp) vanishes. His mom (Winona Rider), friends and local police search for answers. What they find draws them into an mystery involving top-secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.

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Netflix and The Duffer Brothers have created a nostalgic powerhouse of a TV series in Stranger Things. The eight-episode sci-fi masterpiece feels like The X-Files met The Goonies and proceeded to have Stephen King’s Baby (which in the show would be a hungry demon from another dimension). I’m in love with Stranger Things: the performances, the throwback music, the title credits, the suspense, the amount of 1980’s flair thrown in for good measure… As a kid who grew up renting as many 80’s monster B-movies as possible, this show was made for people like me and I’m forever in the Duffer Brothers’ debt. I cannot wait to see what direction they take this story in season 2 (yes season 2 will continue the amazing story of these characters).

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Stranger Things kicks off with a group of kids playing Dungeons and Dragons (because this show kicks ass) and on his way home, one of the kids – Will – winds up being chased by a shadowy monster and tragically disappears that night. His mother, played gloriously by Winona Ryder (this is some of her best work – ever) rightfully enters panic mode and does whatever she can to try and find her son who has gone missing. I love how Ryder never gives up hope and even resorts to talking to her son’s lamp, the Christmas lights on the walls, whatever she can because she’s convinced that Will is communicating to her through blasts of electrical energy. It’s a confusing thing to explain without spoiling, so I won’t, but just know that Stranger Things deals with an alternate dimension and that’s where Will just might be…. Plus you know – there’s this horrifying creature that is preying on the townspeople of Indiana as well.

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Police Chief Hopper, played by David Harbour, starts the series off as a mess. He’s late for work, he’s tired as shit and he’s drinking a little too early – that sorta thing. But there’s this underlying plot about Hopper’s daughter that sheds so much light into his character and by the time we see what happened to her, it’s both heartbreaking and one of the most emotional moments of the series. As one Twitter user said a while ago and nailed it — David Harbour: the guy who was in everything has now become “the guy”. That sums it up perfectly, because Harbour’s character of Chief Hopper was my favorite in a show loaded with tremendous talent and if there is any justice he will be nominated for an Award. His arc, going from cantankerous bastard to a hero you can cheer for is so very satisfying.

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While everyone is searching for Will, we find another child (a small girl with a shaved head) who appears just as one kid disappears. This child – named Eleven or Elle – is played by Millie Brown and she is a superstar. This mysterious little girl has telekinetic powers and she’s on the run from a group of very bad ‘men in black’ type characters who will stop at nothing to get her back into a lab for more tests. Her story and the murderous creature’s are of course all connected and will collide at various and riveting moments throughout season 1. Millie Brown is a gem and little Elle kicks so much ass all season long. The group of D&D kids, who are really the core of this show after their friend Will goes missing, wind up adopting Elle in the wake of these horrific events and the bond they develop over these eight episodes is so touching. If you had friends (and I hope you did at some point) then you will relate to this group of nerdy children.

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There’s adventure, much like there was in Stand By Me, but there’s also a good strong dose of horror which is why you will definitely discover several touches of horror icon Stephen King even though he wasn’t involved at all in the creation of Stranger Things. This show feels like it was spawned from that period in the late 1980’s, when a large chunk of King’s work was being adapted for film and series, but then it was left in a vault and released decades later. You know – with a good boost in CGI along the way. That creature…. You WILL see what the monster looks like eventually so have patience. There’s a JAWS effect in play when it comes to the paranormal villainous force so you will only see flashes of this thing but every time is more frightening than the last. It comes through the walls, the lights flicker every time it’s near, so the cues of it’s arrival are just as dramatic as the moment it arrives to devour you.

Stranger Things is nostalgic, but not to the point where it’s solely interesting because of it’s influences… The Duffer Brothers have weaved a very complex, emotionally grounded and inspirational science fiction series that can stand the test of time regardless of it’s setting and oldschool feel.

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Editor-In-Chief of Fox Force Five News. I had a zombie cameo on the opening page of The Walking Dead issue #91, where I was killed with a machete... It was awesome.