Netflix's Stranger Things a blast of '80s nostalgia

FILM REVIEW

BY RYAN MACKETT


One of my most favourite releases of 2016 was something that didn’t actually get released in theatres. In fact, it isn’t technically a movie at all, but I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about it in one of my articles.

I am of course speaking of the Netflix Original series Stranger Things. Stranger Things is an eight episode series produced by and exclusive to Netflix, and created by The Duffer Brothers.

The series is a pastiche of 80s nostalgia, sometimes reverent and homage-like, and other times blatantly borrowed. Most notably, Stranger Things clearly showcases the influences of classic films like John Carpenter’s The Thing, as well as many, many references to the works of Stephen King (especially It) and Steven Spielberg. The series pays homage to movies like Stand By Me, The Goonies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and more recent films like Silent Hill and J.J. Abrams’ Super 8.

One of the biggest contributors to the series’ 1980s aesthetic is the terrific electronic score by musicians Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. Additionally, the show’s intro and titles utilizes a similar font to the Dungeons & Dragons game books, and the official poster for the show was created in a style similar to Drew Struzan, who painted some of the most iconic movie posters of all time.

The show follows a group of young friends who are trying desperately to locate their buddy Will after he goes missing. Winona Ryder plays Will’s mom Joyce Byers in a terrific performance. The real stars here are the terrific child actors who play the close-knit group of friends.

While searching for Will, they befriend a mysterious girl named Eleven, who may have information about Will’s whereabouts and how they can save him. Unfortunately, the secret government laboratory that is hunting Eleven is also searching for something horrible that has escaped, wreaking havoc on the small town where the action takes place.

The show is very creepy and features a lot of supernatural elements, so it might not be for everyone, but it is definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately it is a Netflix exclusive at this point, so for those of you that don’t have a Netflix subscription, you’ll have to wait for the Blu-ray/DVD release. This is definitely one to check out, though.

There is an ever-increasingly large number of “exclusive” shows being produced by streaming services such as Netflix, CraveTV and others. These shows, alongside the fantastic work coming out of HBO, AMC and FX are giving the movie industry a run for its money, especially in the area of quality storytelling.


Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at tbaymovieguy@gmail.com.


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