‘Stranger Things’ is an homage to creepy ‘80s flicks and their plot holes
WASHINGTON: Written and directed by film-making twins Matt and Ross Duffer (who bill themselves as the Duffer Brothers), Netflix’s beguiling yet imperfect eight-episode mystery series Stranger Things has a style and form that honours early 1980s moviedom – the same time period in which the show is set.
A little like JJ Abrams’s Super 8 in 2011, Stranger Things borrows here and there from ET: The ExtraTerrestrial, Poltergeist, the early Halloween flicks and the less successful adaptations of Stephen King’s novels, among others, including a dash of the 1999 TV cult hit Freaks and Geeks. The Duffers certainly nail the look and feel – even the opening credits and synthesiser score evoke the smell of stale popcorn and dirty carpet in the strip-mall twinplex.
But a series can’t subsist only as a nostalgia trip, which is why, a few episodes in, the writing and pacing fail to deliver on the larger idea. It’s still fun to see Winona Ryder so perfectly cast as Joyce Byers, a harried working mom in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, whose son Will ( Noah Schnapp) disappears one night while bicycling home from a marathon Dungeons & Dragons game at the home of his friend Mike (Finn Wolfhard).
Joyce implores Jim Hopper (David Harbour), the town’s lazy police chief, to step up the search for Will – but soon enough she starts sensing her son’s presence in the light bulbs and other electrical appliances in her house. “Where are you?” she asks the thin air. “R-I-G-H-T ... H-E-RE” he spells out in Christmas lights.
Meanwhile, Mike and two other middle school nerds ( Caleb McLaughlin and Gaten Matarazzo) set out to find their friend and instead discover Number 11 (Millie Brown), a frightened girl with a shaved head who has escaped from the nearby top-secret government lab, where the creepy Dr Brenner (Matthew Modine) is conducting some kind of alien telekinesis experiment that has unleashed a monster. – Washington Post
Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers and Millie Brown as number 11 in the Netflix series