Stranger Things references Michael Myers in “Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street”, and prominently features the movie posters of John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Evil Dead, and Jaws throughout the eight-episode series, just a few of the reasons we highly recommend that you check out this great new Netflix original that just came online.
The spectacular soundtrack is straight out of John Carpenter Land, and the themes and cinematography echo the best of Stephen King and Steven Spielberg. There are shades of The Goonies, The Monster Squad, and John Hughes as well, painting a truly loving thowback to the best of the ’80s in every way.
And if that’s not enough genre nostalgia, then there’s also Winona Ryder, arguably never better as the understandably frantic mother of a young boy, “Will”, who goes missing in the opening scene, giving the series its central mystery.
But of course there are many other mysteries too, like what’s really going on in the government facility that abuts the town, and what’s up with the weird little girl who shows up to Will’s three best friends just as Will disappears.
There are some really great performances from all of the younger actors playing Will (Noah Schnapp) and his friends (played by Finn Wolfhard, Gatan Matarazzo, and Caleb McLaughlin), but it is newcomer Millie Brown who plays “Eleven” that we are keeping an eye on most, as she will likely be winning Academy Awards one day in the not too distant future.
Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton bring the teen angst into the picture as older siblings from opposite sides of the lunchroom who seem to be falling for each other, if only it weren’t for an asshole boyfriend (played by Joe Keery) with insane Flock of Seagulls styled hair who experiences an odd change of heart late in the story that still has me a bit confused.
And David Harbour gives a star making performance as the town’s sheriff, who seems flippant at first glance but buries deep pain which ultimately fuels his resolve to find the missing Will and figure out just what the hell is really going on.
It’s the type of small town ensemble of mostly likable characters that can be found in most Stephen King novels of this era, placed firmly in the fall (just after Halloween) in the year 1983.
Stranger Things is so easily bingeable that I watched all eight episodes in just two nights. While I could complain that the ending left me unsatisfied, it is justified and true to the story, leaving the door open just enough to allow for a second season but not necessarily demanding it.
The enjoyment of this old school journey through the darkening woods taps right into what it is to be a kid on the verge of adolescence, a teen on the edge of first love, a parent about to loose their mind in grief but still fighting to keep hope alive, and the Stranger Things that make it all worth it in the end.
Stranger Things is now streaming on Netflix.
Have you watched Stranger Things? What did you think? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments!
For more Halloween news, follow @HalloweenDaily.