8 Episodes, 55 mins
Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Mike Wolfhard
Directors: The Duffer Brothers
Genre: Horror, Drama, Sci-Fi
On his way home from a day of fantasy role-play with his friends, 12-year-old Will Byers disappears. This sudden suspected crime rocks the sleepy town of Hawkins to its core, unsettling the well-cloaked foundations of something sinister and incredibly dangerous.
Stranger Things comes to you like an old friend. The Duffer Brothers, annoyingly in their early thirties, are children of the 1980s and as such draw from the same pool of cinematic experiences that have moulded the man I am today. Nods to Poe, Conrad, Stephen King, John Carpenter and even Steven Spielberg are all present creating an almost reminiscent charm that skates thinly across the top of a complex and incredibly fascinating story. Don’t get me wrong, seeing that Stranger Things tips its hat towards The Goonies, Stand By Me, It and even E.T. does not mean it’s in any way less than these cinematic milestones. It is most certainly not. If anything it’s able to create a superior psychological mindscape as it slowly releases the repressed memories of these people’s often sad lives.
Winona Ryder has never been better. Not ever. Collect up all the miniseries awards and mail them to her now, it’ll save you the time and effort pulling together the nomination lists. David Harbour gives a career defining performance in a role that could easily have come across as cliché but it’s the young cast that truly raise Stranger Things above anything on television at the moment. Mike Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin do some of the heaviest lifting in this show. Sure, they’re all pros with Law & Order, Black List, Intruders and Supernatural on their bios to date but that’s nothing when you consider they are basically carrying the weight of four movies in this eight-part show.
Keep an eye on Mike Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler) and Millie Bobbie Brown (Eleven) especially. Mike’s due to pop up in the remake of Stephen King’s It next year, while Millie has already blew the doors off as Madison O’Donnell in the ironically short-lived Intruders which centered around the pursuit of immortality.
Stranger Things is absolutely everything you could have ever wanted from a TV show as a child of the 80s. It’s a dark and twisted undercurrent with a dangerously misleading small town Mur’ca vibe on top of it. It is every bike-based adventure you and your friends ever went on as a child wrapped up inside the most deadly fantasy RPG ever devised.