* * * * A
Stranger Things, an eight hour series on Netflix, is a great piece of horror, reminiscent of Steven King’s “Firestarter” and the novels of HP Lovecraft. Set in the 1970’s in a small town, it tells the story of a young boy, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) who goes missing. Will’s family live next door to a mysterious government research complex, which is not called “The Shop”.
There are three main plot lines. The first involves the boy’s three best friends and a mysterious girl, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) they find in the woods. The second revolves around Will’s friend Mike’s teenaged sister, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and her friends. The last one follows Will’s mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) and the town’s sheriff (David Harbour).
The horror is good, the characters well written and well acted. David Harbour, who’s had a long career as a supporting actor, shows that he has the chops to take on a lead roll. The boys remind me of the Goonies, but are handled much more seriously. The teenagers are probably the weakest link for me, but I still enjoyed their story.
What’s not to like? I found the writing a little predictable. I knew what many of the plot twists would be in advance, though not due to hamfisted foreshadowing. The effects were a little weak, but not enough to detract from the experience. The worst comment I can make is that Nancy and Mike’s parents follow the “dumb parent” trope found in so many horror films. I would be fine with that if the writers had poked fun at the trope, but they didn’t.
The series was so popular that Netflix has commissioned a second season, and the producers, the Duffer Brothers, have said that it will be a sequel to the first. Here’s hoping that its as good.