Stranger Things (2016) created by Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer
Starring – Winona Ryder, David Harbour and Finn Wolfhard
Okay, I will try to keep this review as spoiler free as I can for those that need further persuading to watch the series or just haven’t got round to watching it, but in my opinion its the kind of series you need to go into completely blind. When I watched the series I knew absolutely nothing about it, no character knowledge or any idea what it was about and that almost makes it better because you have no expectations of how it will be. So if you haven’t seen it I would urge you to watch before reading this, because as spoiler free as I keep this I’m still going to be giving you info that you could probably do without knowing. However, I know that some people like reading before watching, if so, fair enough. I’ve warned you.
Set in a small American town during the 1980’s, a group of four friends unite a larger community when one of them goes missing. With mysterious circumstances surrounding his disappearance, the group must come together to confront a darker and more serious reality.
That’s as much as I can give you plot-wise without ruining the twists and turns in the narrative. Stranger Things is so unique but so bizarre, it really has to be seen to be properly appreciated. This is by far my favourite Netflix original at present and definitely ranks high in my favourite series of all time because it is so unique and such an original concept. In terms of coming up with such a concept for a series, TV or web, is incredible. Put it this way, it would not surprise me at all if a few years down the line it’s adapted as a film, it wouldn’t have the same level of suspense as is maintained by cliff hanger episode endings, but could still be done.
That’s one of the key elements to this series, suspense. Every single episode seems to successfully escalate the level of suspense and means you don’t feel at all disappointed with the episode you’ve just committed about 45mins to. Even the last episode leaves you with an element of suspense and leaves you wanting more. Yes, in some ways it baits for a second series (which has been announced) but it’s so well done that you want more regardless. There are so many different storylines going on at once that there are a lot of unanswered questions. It could have done what films like Inception (2010) had done before and leave the questions unanswered as part of its charm, but the second series of Stranger Things is supposed to take a slightly different angle regardless so maybe it will.
The concept is brilliant, the maintenance of the concept is brilliant, but the way the series is presented to it’s audience helps this and captivates your attention. The camera is slick and very film-esque, the stylistic lens flare and warm colouring make it different to look at. It stands out and for me it made me want to watch and see more of the story. Thats probably the best way for me to describe the look of this series, it looks like a story, its realism but with almost a soft fictional filter lay on top.
To carry such a concept also requires exceptional actors and I would say that this has definitely been well thought out and executed. With only Winona Rider as the big name (I personally had never heard or seen the other actors previously), I was worried about the casting being weak and especially with majority child actors, it could have gone the opposite way and been cheesy and cringeworthy. I am a dedicated hater of child actors, they’re generally terrible, generally too immature and almost always used to be adorable or scary. In Stranger Things the child characters, carry the majority of the plot and do it really well. They’re hilarious and convincing.
All in all, I genuinely have nothing negative to say about the series. I’m really wracking my brains trying to think of something the series didn’t do or did poorly so this can be a more balanced review but I’m struggling. It’s just so so good. I think I’ve been successful in my attempts to make this a spoiler free review, if you haven’t seen it already and you’ve got this far, I really hope you take the time to watch Stranger Things. If you’re like me and have seen it and are now eagerly awaiting season two, I’d be inclined to rewatch it. With the enigmatic trailer for the next part, I think you might need to have the events of season one fresh in your memory as there was a lot to take in.