It’s rare that I sit down and really invest myself into something that is stylistically horror. I am not saying I don’t like the genre, I am merely pointing out that it is last in my list of priorities when it comes to dedicating energy to watching shows and movies of that type. I did however manage to click onto the wonderfully sinister and quintessentially 80’s horror movie style title “Stranger Things” when I saw it pop up on my Netflix feed.
As you could imagine the first thing that hit me was the characteristic typeface of the title. Netflix originals always stands out from their somewhat lacking licensed counterparts by their customised title art. Strangers Things not only followed this quiet tradition but they also blew it out the park. They say never judge a book by it’s cover, but sometimes it’s a good idea to judge a series by it’s title art.
As I said before. I am not usually a big fan of horror and The first impression I got from ST was the same vibe I got from Scream, the successor to the widely known and painful self aware film franchise. But I found myself drawn to the menacing and otherworldly allure of the tone that was already emanating from this show. And being an absolute sucker for Netflix originals. I had to press play.
The open scene was a touch cliche. I found myself reaching for my Xbox controller already as I not only thought that I was going to be sitting through another tedious horror series but I also thought I got quite good at judging things very quickly. And I will admit to you , dear reader, that I did leave it a few days before I watched episode two. For some reason I found the set up in episode one to be to cosy and formulaic: A dark and eerie town where three nerdy friends find solace in their fantasy games find themselves in a spooky situation where strange things happen. Oh, and they somehow have to contend with a girl in their group. I found myself predicting something that I was completely wrong about.
As with many series that I stream over time I gave episode two a go and I was hooked. Each episode gave you more and yet some how left us wanting more. I have to commend the writers on their absolutely immaculate post episode one pacing. The character of Mike, Dustin were superbly created in a way where their characters shine through as individuals and meld together perfectly as a triumphant trio of would be adventurers I almost felt like the fourth friend (Fifth if you count the missing boy Will.)
On to acting. The series didn’t suffer from a slight lack on known faces in the cast. We are of course given the trademark vulnerability of Winona Ryder’s performance as the long suffering yet teeth grittingly determined Joyce Byers. The rest of the cast however are fresh faces of young talent. I believe that that despite the solid performance of the older actors. The spotlight must be shone on the superb performance of not only Finn Wolfward, Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin who play Mike, Dustin and Lucas respectively, but also the show stealing performance by Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven. I have not seen a young actor have such a mastery over their facial expressions. During the show, Eleven barely speaks and only learns to say brief sentences near the end of the series. But the amount of emotion and storytelling that she portrays through her silent acting is not only impressive, It’s Emmy worthy.
Stranger things is a dark yet endearing adventure into the dark and spooky and it pays such a polished and well executed homage to the horror.sci-fi movies of the 1980′ that I dare say we’re seeing the start of a new pop culture trend. There’s even talk of a Stranger Things inspired club night in Liverpool.