Netflix’s new original series, Stranger Things, was completely off my radar until Friday when every science fiction related subreddit started blowing up about this awesome new sci-fi show. Two relatively unknown directors (the Duffer brothers) had made an 8 episode series reminiscent of Steven Spielberg and ’80s era Stephen King that was described as being ET, Goonies, Ghostbusters and Super 8 all mashed together into something truly fantastic.
Five minutes into the first episode I knew the hype was real, this was the best thing I’ve seen in years and I’m only two episodes in.
Stranger Things is, I’m not going to mince words, an absolute marvel. The show takes place in Hawkins, Indiana in the mid-’80s. The story hinges on the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of a local kid named Will, and the sudden arrival of a terrified and otherworldly young girl in a hospital gown. That’s all I’m going to say plot wise.
We’ve seen attempts to exploit nostalgia for the ’80s before, notably Super 8 is the last example I can think of that came pretty close to nailing it. Apparently, I was wrong. Stranger Things is the ’80s, it’s not just set in the ’80s, it’s as if they took a modern 4k camera and time traveled to the ’80s to film. It’s so perfectly balanced, you don’t feel like some huge effort was made to play on your nostalgia for the ’80s, it’s just natural and wouldn’t feel right any-other way.
What I’ve been most impressed with, so far, is the score. It will catch you from the start and really sets the ’80s mood without being forceful. The onscreen performances and casting are also pretty fantastic. The four main kids; Finn Wolfard, Millie Bobby Brown, Caleb McLaughlin, and Gaten Matarazzo all nail the nerdy ’80s kid and give off a great Goonies vibe. Matarazzo is my favorite, the kid is so damn entertaining. You’ll be seriously invested in their well-being in no time. The adults turn in some wicked performances as well, with Winona Ryder and David Harbour being the obvious standouts. Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton, the teenager in-betweens, have had limited camera time so far but are already great and I’m anticipating big things from them as the series continues.
Stranger Thing takes the best of King and Spielberg, throws it in a Vitamix and then passes it all through a high-fidelity filter with awesome results. It’s stylish, creepy, a little scary, funny, touching and so much more. I don’t know who these Duffer brothers are, but I’m sure we all soon will. Drop everything and go watch Stranger Things on Netflix now, you can thank me in 8 hours.