Just a brief detour from the usual genres on this site. A friend introduced me to a new series on Netflix called Stranger Things.
It’s part Spielberg kid’s feature, with a good bit of Stephen King and a little HP Lovecraft mixed in.
Set in 1983, the show follows young Will Byers as he heads home after playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends. He quickly realizes something bad is following him and this leads the show straight into suspense/horror mode, as a shadowy form chases the kid through his house and out into the field.
The next few episodes show the investigation by the local police into Will’s disappearance, the appearance of a mysterious girl with superhuman abilities and the dealings of a shadowy government conspiracy as they try to hinder the investigation into Will’s disappearance and recover the girl.
At the same time, Will’s friends start their own search for him.
The show is steeped in nostalgia and does a good job portraying the world of 1983 and the people living in it.The plot is loaded with cold war paranoia about secret experiments and mysterious agencies.
While there is a fair bit of suspense and light horror it’s all pretty much PG-13 level, plenty of shadowy figures, jump scares and spring loaded cat stunts. Most of the really violent and/or gory imagery is obscured or masked by camera cuts.
The sound is especially well done. Some of the noises and synth stabs used will levitate you out of your seat and make your hair stand on end and really help the gloomy, creepy atmosphere of the show.
While there are some supernatural-ish elements, they are explained in a manner more in line with a science fiction film than a fantasy. A good portion of the show involves unraveling exactly what the government is doing in that mysterious lab and how it affects the town.
The overall tone and feel reminds me of a previous Spielberg effort, 2011’s Super 8. Production values are high and the show does a good job of drawing you into the story.
So far this show is proving to be an interesting diversion. My next review should be up tomorrow.