‘Stranger Things’ is an homage to creepy ‘80s flicks and their plot holes

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODWATCHING -

HANK STUEVER

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

Stranger Things.

Wi­nona Ryder as Joyce By­ers, Char­lie Heaton as Jonathan By­ers and Mil­lie Brown as num­ber 11 in the Net­flix se­ries

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