It’s November 6th 1983 in a small town in Indiana, and a Mike, Lucas, Will and Dustin are a young group of friends enthralled in game of Dungeons and Dragons. Unable to finish the game due to the late time Lucas, Will and Dustin make their way home. On Will’s journey back he comes across a shadowy figure and stumbles off road falling from his bike, looking behind him the figure is now in pursuit and chases him back home. With nobody home Will hides in the shed and arms himself with a rifle only for the figure to lurk up behind him, the next second Will has vanished along with the figure. Following Will’s disappearance, his friends, mother and the towns jaded Sheriff all find themselves on their own mission to find Will at all costs.
Remember that first time you watched Stand By Me as a youngster? What about The Goonies? Do you remember the feeling of immersing yourself in those captivating journeys of friendship, growing up, and peril, which you wanted to be a part of? Well thanks to the best show to hit Netflix since House of Cards first debuted you can experience that all again. Because Stranger Things is quite simply glorious.
Like a spellbinding tale being passionately told around the campfire that borrows from a plethora of urban legends, Stranger Things lovingly echoes everything it can from the films, TV and literature that inspired it. From the brooding synth scored title credits that ooze John Carpenter, to the ominous supernatural force plaguing the town that screams Stephen King, Stranger Things is one of the most entertaining trips down nostalgia lane your ever likely to take. But what makes this new show stand head and shoulders above the hundreds of empty films and shows already trying to be hip with cultural references is that it has heart. Making this heart beat hard and true is the tremendous acting by every single member of the cast.
It’s so rare for an entire cast to be so on point, to give everyone a responsibility and role without diminishing the importance of others, and not since The Wire have I seen a show that seamlessly weaves between different narratives of the same story. Winona Ryder gives one of the best performances of the year as Joyce Byers, the distraught mother of the missing Will, and David Harbour whose name won’t be familiar to most is just fantastic as Sheriff Jim Hopper. But what is really astounding about Stranger Things are the show stealing performances from the younger cast members. Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) are superb as the young boys who’ll do anything to find their friend. Wolfhard is already lined up to play Richie Tozier in the remake of IT but this cast has a very bright future ahead of them (and I’ll say it now, Gaten Matarazzo has Ash Ketchum written all over him). That being said, it would be unfair to single any one person out because the entire cast are excellent, shifting tones between drama and humour effortlessly.
Aiding the stellar acting from the cast is the playground in which they play, steeped in a shadowy atmosphere there are many a cliched element that creators the Duffer Brothers have used to assemble the show, but it works. Reason being, rather than just name drop and reference eighties culture the show is fully immersed in it, transcending nostalgia and becoming a living breathing classic that sits alongside the works it was so heavily influenced by. Though the shows eight episode length may seem short, it prevents it from being dragged out and slowing down, and enhances the tension and drama. That being said, because it draws you in so much you’ll no doubt be left wanting more come the final credit roll. The only thing missing from this show is more practical effects instead of CGI, if they utilised this type of special effect more often it would truly be a masterpiece.
Netflix has an ace piece of content to hang it’s hat on, the Duffer Brothers have created a fantastic world that will hopefully lead them on to greater things, and we have thoroughly entertaining show you’ll fall in love with after the first episode. Stranger Things is a fantastically developed series which ticks every box, bursting with tremendous performances, full of characters you can’t help but get behind, and though it’s clearly inspired by so many different things it stands out on it’s own as something very special. Just watch it, right now.