Series Review: Netflix’s Stranger Things is an 80s Sci-Fi Nostalgic Wonder
A brief review by Camilo Arenivar
This spoiler-free short review might be coming a little late, but I enjoyed the nostalgic Netflix sci-fi horror series Stranger Things so much that I decided to take a stab at it even though it’s been out for 3 weeks on Netflix now. What I enjoyed about it was that it was magical, scary, and interesting in a manner that made me want to keep coming back for more. It was handily influenced by one of my favorite Stephen King stories, had a John Carpenter subtle horror element yet with kids as protagonists in a way reminiscent of 80s Spielberg films and yes, even The Goonies.
Stranger Things takes place in 1983 and centers on 4 Junior high school friends, one (Will) of whom goes missing after a mysterious encounter in a shed. His disappearance sends his mother (played by Winona Ryder) on a frantic search. At the same time, we are introduced to a strange young girl who is being chased by what looks to be some kind of government agents. The interesting thing here is that these two story lines collide and are interconnected.
I referenced Stranger Things as sci-fi and horror but I want to point out that this is the very best elements of those genres. The writer/directors, The Duffer Brothers (Wayward Pines) proudly admit influences from Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, and John Carpenter.
Stranger Things is indeed a wonderful, magical homage to the 80s films of Spielberg and the books of King. Think King’s Firestarter and It, Spielberg’s E.T. and Close Encounters and all the nostalgia of the early 80s including the awesome soundtrack. Despite all of that, the storytelling feels fresh, and is not derivative to the point of being annoying. Fans of the novel Firestarter may find some of the similarities a little too close but I found it enjoyable.
Winona Ryder shines as the frantic mother of the missing boy. What is great about the series is that it grabs and holds your interest through the whole eight episodes, which for many people has led to binge watching as is often likely to happen with Netflix series.