Stranger Things (2016)
PLOT - In a small town, just miles away from a highly secure government run lab, a young boy vanishes into thin air one night after leaving a friend's house. The following morning his mother becomes hysterical, calling on the local sheriff to help find her young boy. Days go by, and no sign of him. It isn't long before strange unexplained events begin happening as the boy's friends find an unlikely aid to help them try to solve the mystery of what exactly happened.
LOWDOWN - A few months ago my friend Mike told me about this preview he had seen for a new Netflix show with Winona Ryder. I never got around to checking it out but early yesterday I started all ready hearing the buzz about it all over Facebook. After a lovely afternoon with my sister Alexis, I crashed at her place where I told her about this show I wanted to check out. The two of us watched the first two episodes before she had to drive up to her other house up in Maine. There I stayed in the A.C, wrapped up on the couch drinking an iced coffee enjoying the HELL out of this new show that instantly charmed me.
So many shows/movies are trying to cash in on the retro nostalgia of the 1970's, 80's, and 90's. Mostly the 80's. Between films taking place in that decade, or throwbacks with synth music it almost seems to be on overload. So many people are trying to cash in on a much simpler time when movies and TV were honestly pretty awesome. We have films like You're Next, and The Guest. Slashers that homage those times like The Final Girls, and It Follows. We have shows and movies showing video stores, montages, and fashion. Between sequels being made 30 years later, TV shows being based off classic movies or being brought back, retro sodas and junk food returning, remakes, toys, movies getting re-released on blu-ray, and conventions. 2016 has been quite a time to be alive. (I was sold all ready with a new Star Wars and Pee Wee movie) Just this week I was sorta stunned to learn that the IT remake was being shifted in timeline from the 1950's to the 1980's. The second I saw those kids in the basement in the first episode playing what appeared to be Dungeons and Dragons, with a Thing poster in the background I was a little scared. Some movies try way TOO hard to show that the movie was taking place in the 80's. They splatter the sets with toys, posters, and even how the script is written. It's too much. This series did it very tastefully. They paid attention to detail (TV commercials, even food boxes and brands in the background.) but it didn't really seem too much forced at us. (Besides honestly the Thing poster and The Evil Dead poster. Sorry, but those movies looked a little too new to be 1983) I felt everything was pretty settle. Even the fashion, hair, and sets. What got me was how magical this show seemed with the AMAZING synth theme playing as the boys rode their bikes down the street. It felt like Stand By Me meets The Goonies, Meets The Monster Squad, meets ET. Get it?
Movies are rarely able to have really good child actors, these kids did a pretty good job. Yeah a few times I was rolling my eyes but if Stacy didn't roll her eyes at child, there might be a problem. Now I'm staying away from spoilers here in case people haven't finished watching. The show is 8 episodes long, and everyone I'm talking to is in typical Netflix fashion binge watching it. What really won me over was the opening titles with that haunting heartbeat synth music over the red glowing titles almost straight out of a Stephen King novel. In fact a fellow friend of mine shared the same thought I was thinking about how really Stephen King films should try the Netflix thing such as The Stand and Needful Things. This way they can honestly get away with whatever they wanna do, have it be as long as they want it to be, and have fans enjoy it at their own pace. Netflix is the future of television. This was how watching TV was meant to be. I for one used to wait until my favorite show's would come out on DVD so I could sit and watch them all within a few days. For the most part Netflix has been knocking their shows out of the park and I think if there will be other seasons to this show, it will be another summer favorite of mine I will look forward to.
This show also didn't try to be too weird with the town and copy such past hits like Twin Peaks. It had a solid cast (I really have to hand it to both Winona Ryder and David Harbour. Both rocked their roles, and were both heartbreaking to watch.) I will admit this show was very strong the first five or so episodes. It sorta slowed down for the last three, but I still haven't had that much fun watching a show in years. The music was beautiful and haunting, the storylines captivating, and the mystery and weirdness building with each episode. There were total WTF moments, scenes that cracked me up, and scenes that actually made me cry. Like I said it had the charm of a Spielberg movie, but the amazing storytelling of a King novel. Even the CGI didn't bother me which is a huge thing. I really, really, really liked this show. I also had a huge hoot out of the fact the ex husband was played by the actor who was in Amityville The Next Generation. "Sigh" if only they had gotten two favorite stars of mine from Amityville It's About Time. Still, even the storyline of the older sister dating and trying to fit in was good. My favorite of course was watching Winona driven by grief, wondering if she's going insane, and convinced her son is alive. All of the scenes with the lights blinking had me going. I loved the character of eleven, and it gives me hope for this IT remake. If the child actors in that can be half as good as the kids in this we have a winner.
Eight episodes went by in a flash and I loved everything about it. Besides the ending, which left me a little puzzled. Will there be a season 2? Will it have a different storyline? I'm a little taken aback, but we'll see. Until then I will try to convince as many people as possible to check out this show. It was a throwback to the 1980's, and was a fun adventure. Check out right away!!!
4 1/2 stars!