Show Review: Netflix's Stranger Things
My Initial Impressions
I heard a lot of good things about this around the work office, and several people talked about it on social media. After I heard it was only 8 episodes, I figured, "Why not?" Turns out my wife and I got hooked very quickly.
It's got a very straightforward plot that smells heavily of 80's horror flicks (in the best way), genuinely creepy atmospheres, and best of all, highly believable characters (aside from the obvious caricatures). Also an older but still excellent Winona Ryder. I don't believe I recognized a single other individual and that had no bearing on what I was watching.
It's short, to the point, gripping, and feels smart.
While there are many different characters and plot threads to follow, the overarching plot is this; there's a monster in a small county well away from the nearest city, people are going missing, and a small girl is seemingly at the heart of it all.
As many have said before me, it's very Spielberg like in execution and mystery and channels a lot of the youth-bond that's present in many of Stephen King's works. There's more than a few nods to other 80's horror flicks as well with the massive number of posters to things such as John Carpenter's The Thing, Alien, and Evil Dead.
There are a handful of twists and it will easily keep you engrossed. Better yet, the plot is moved forward in a coherent way. I claimed the characters are smart, and I stand by that. Even those that aren't behave in a human and believable manner and that's something I feel I don't see enough of in works of horror made in modern times.
As mentioned before, the entire set piece represents the 80's. Aside from the obviously superior computer generated graphics, it's easy to forget that this is a recent development. The houses, the clothes, the pop culture references, the way characters talk, the music, the cars, the posters (I want them), it's all done so well to incorporate the viewer into a time period.
Granted, this is from somebody born in 1991 but judging from other 80's films, it feels right at home.
There's plenty of children speaking expletives and there's a fair amount of physical violence. Gore is more of a moderate-minimal; no shot dwells on nor glorifies bodily carnage but you know it's there. There's very, very little sexual content that occurs past a teenage hookup that you'll easily see coming.
It's the creep factor that goes all out but it's difficult to compare this to something else as everyone is bothered by different things in different ways.
You should watch this, really. It's 8 episodes so it's concise. The characters are brilliant, the story straight forward and gripping. I might have found a bump in the road here and there, but it's difficult to remember them. Seriously, if you've got the time and you have any interest in any of the things I've said, watch a single episode just to see how warm the water is.
- Mashup of classic Spielberg/Stephen King feels
- Unbelievably solid and smart characters (most of them anyway)
- Strong, central story viewed through the eyes of multiple characters
- Plenty of feel-good moments as well as heartache
- Genuinely creepy (especially with a storm outside as was my case)
- Difficult to stop watching all 8 episodes in 1 go