STARRING: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Natalia Dyer, Cara Buono, Charlie Heaton and Matthew Modine
When a young boy disappears, his mother must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back.
Stranger Things takes us to Hawkins, Indiana in 1983, where one night a young boy named Will Byers vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.
Stranger Things is a television series from Netflix that seemingly came out of the blue until last month a trailer was released to create a buzz around the mysterious disappearance of a young boy who vanishes without a trace. Little did I know going into the eight episodes that not only will Stranger Things be the biggest surprise of the summer, but will easily be on the top of my list for favourite television series come the end of the year.
Stranger Things is a perfect homage to 80’s cinema, managing to blend the premise that could have come right from a Stephen King novel (which seems evident that’s what they were aiming for with the particular style of font used for the opening credits), to the style of storytelling in the vein of Stephen Spielberg, to the fantastic score from Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein that perfectly tips the hat to the musical scores from John Carpenter. Being eight episodes in length, it perfectly paces the intrigue of Will’s mysterious disappearance, giving you breadcrumbs of information along the way in revealing the big mystery and also by having some well fleshed out character of various ages. With the adults we have fantastic performances from Winona Ryder and David Harbour. Winona Ryder is terrific as Joyce Byers, a mother hell bent on finding her missing son by any methods necessary, regardless of how crazy it may seem to everyone else around here. Ryder has always been a great actress and here she gets to go into great depth as the grieving mother whose son has disappeared in strange circumstances. David Harbour is a guy that’s been around for a long time in supporting roles on film and television and here he arguably has his best role to date as Chief Jim Hopper, a cop who’s burdened with a unbearable loss in his past which results in him resorting to going on a diet of pills and alcohol and embracing the quiet nature of the town because of it. Once the suspicions of the boys disappearance become verified, his character shines as he’s sharper than he appears to be….and badass. While these two are great, the heart of the film comes from the young actors that play Will’s friends in Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin. These kids effortlessly gel well together on screen and their friendship appears incredibly authentic to us the viewer as the episodes progress as they try to figure out what happened to their friend. Then in turn leads to them coming across a mysterious girl played by Millie Brown, who probably will (and should) receive the most praise for he portrayal of the character with such depth with minimal amount of dialogue in comparison to the rest of the cast. The cinematography work from Tom Ives and Tod Campbell is worth mentioning as well as there’s some gorgeous shot involved throughout the series.
While the performances across the board are authentic and the characters are fleshed out, the teenagers arc involving Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton and Joe Keery, while it has its entertaining moments, just isn’t quite as interesting as the adults and kids arc as it took a while for me to get invested in them from the start. Also while his character has a looming presence in the series, I do wish I got to learn more about Matthew Modine’s character. The 80’s nostalgia in Stranger Things may also be off putting for some and while the series has some closure, there’s still a few mysteries left unboxed but the viewer should still feel satisfied with the overall package.
Stranger Things is a perfect blend of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter rolled up into a greatest hits collection of 80’s cinema unfolded in a story that’s handled with love and affection, with authentic and terrific performances from the overall cast that left me yearning for more than eight episodes, despite how satisfied the show left me. Perfect show worthy of your binging time. 10/10