Those of you that follow the Horror Corner know that I don't review television shows or movies. Here I focus on books, and my "specialty" is horror. To narrow it down even further, 80's horror. During the 80's there was a horror boom. It's when I first became hooked on the genre, and as such, it will always hold a special place in my heart. Which brings me to "Stranger Things." Yes, a TV show.
This is a show that recently came to Netflix. I heard some chatter about it among my horror loving friends, but I wasn't overly eager to check it out. Now that I've finished the series, I can't say enough good things about it!
Here's What I Love About the Show:
#1: The 80's nostalgia. From the soundtrack, to the posters of John Carpenter's "The Thing"-it all rocks. Even the clothing is pitch perfect-from the grey knee-socks with the two stripes of color, to the hairstyles and the glasses. It all came straight out of my childhood.
#2: The Truly Oustanding Cast of Young Actors. They are out of this world. I don't even know what else to say about them; they are THAT good. If you remember the movie Stand By Me, (based on the story The Body, published when? You guessed it! The 80's!), and how truly excellent those actors were, then trust me, you will be impressed. In a word, the acting is sublime.
#3. The Story Line. It's very difficult to say too much about this without spoilers, BUT-it's sort of a mix between 80's/ dark fiction/ coming of age stories, (like the aforementioned Stand by Me), and the X-Files. It has a dark feeling to it without going over the line into the gore or splatterpunk category. The tension ratchets up nicely until the last few episodes where you're perched at the edge of your seat. This show doesn't feature a bunch of special effects, (though there are some pretty cool ones), because the story and the acting stand fine without them.
#4. There's Only 8 Episodes. I would compare this show to a horror novella. Truly skilled storytellers usually don't need 1,000 page tomes to tell a good yarn. In fact, I think horror novellas are perfectly suited for the genre. I feel like this show was told in novella form; any longer and the tension and suspense would have suffered, any shorter and there wouldn't have been enough space to tell the story in the way in which it deserved to be told.
#5. The Adult Actors. To be honest, I had a hard time warming up to Winona Ryder at first. Granted, her character, Joyce, had a missing son and she was totally wrecked over it, but I felt like she was a bit overplayed. However, after the third episode, I couldn't help but be won over by her growing hysteria and deep hurt over her missing son. (And, of course, the Christmas lights. You'll see.) The police chief, Hopper, (David Harbour) was perfect as the gruff cop, struggling on the edge of alcoholism, due to his own dark past.
#6. The Truly Creepy Matthew Modine. A doctor (?), seemingly without one iota of feeling. He played his role magnificently.
To bring this post to a close, I would like to say BRAVO to the Duffer brothers! You guys had a vision, Netflix allowed you to give it a shot, and your actors brought it home! Turns out that the intense love I feel for horror in the 80's is not only felt by me. You too loved the family dynamic, long days riding your bike with friends, posters on the walls and The Thing on the big screen. You too, loved the feel of that magical time before it became too dangerous to be unsupervised for the whole day or to build ramps for your bikes. You too understood what it was like to grow up in that time. You dug it all up and put it on the screen to share with all of us. And to that, I say thank you! I had a blast and I can't wait to see what you do next.