Stranger Things: Season 1

8.5 Overall Score
Characters: 9/10
Story: 8/10
Score: 9/10

Interesting characters, an intriguing plot and surprisingly great kid performances lift this show to a must-watch.

To nitpick, it didn't attempt to be its own thing enough to be harbored as a classic.

I don’t think I’ve heard as much buzz about a TV show as Stranger Things since Game of Thrones, or perhaps even Breaking Bad. Stranger Things tweets and posts filled my timelines for a couple weeks before I decided to give it a try. I came to find out that this is right up my alley. After a teenage kid disappears, a loving mom, regretful police chief, and a group of his playful friends must search for him and have a major struggle in doing so. I’m a major horror fan, and mysteries have seemed to disappear from Hollywood these last few years. Thankfully, Stranger Things has revitalized that and become one of the best new shows — if not the best new show — of 2016.

The biggest strength the show has going for it is its riveting plot. It’s quite simple, too: a kid disappears and a search follows. The people involved in this search are not only struggling to comprehend the situation, but are also each given their chance to shine and be an integral part of the story. The horror aspect raises the series for me, though, even if it isn’t a straight-up horror show. It’s reminiscent of The X-Files in many ways. I’ll leave it at that, because explaining the similarities would go into spoiler territory. Just know that if you like that show, this one is for you too.

Stranger Things - Promo 1It’s extremely hard not to mention the acting from basically everybody all around. Perhaps the best acting from a group of kids ever, led by the absolutely charming Millie Bobby Brown, I felt like I was watching actual events take place. It’s rare to see such a mature performance from a kid, but Brown is pretty much stunning. Winona Ryder is also excellent, bringing tears to your eyes in basically every episode with her many outbursts. To double it up, the characters’ relationships are enthralling. To me, this is the most important aspect of films/TV: creating compelling characters. The relationships between people such as the main character Mike and mysterious girl Eleven, or the on-the-verge of rebellion Nancy and awkward brother of Will, Jonathan, and even high school jock, Steve, are what raise this show above the norm. They are so abnormal from what we normally see in entertainment and feel like real life relationships. Nancy’s friend, Barb, is another good character to grasp onto, clutching to her innocence at all times.

Will’s brother, Jonathan, is the “awkward” character of the show, if you want to put it like that. There is so much more to him, though, and the Duffer brothers explore that greatly. The police chief, Jim Hopper (in another great performance from David Harbour), is strangely obsessed with this case and extremely eager to find Will. Seeing him progress throughout the eight episodes was one of my favorite parts of the show, as he continually kept growing on me. What really grasped me from the beginning, and surprised me, was the mystery element. We get little to no information on Will and his whereabouts, which makes you come back to watch the next episode, only to get left with barely any more clues about him.

Stranger Things - Promo 2The first half of the season was pretty solid, but it was really the last two-to-three episodes that stuck out to me, especially the perfect finale. Things came together really well for a long 54-minute emotional journey in “The Upside Down”. There were some predictable routes early on, but as a whole, Season 1 works as a great, character driven horror/mystery. Evocative of Alien, the “monster” isn’t shown very much, making it a lingering thought inside your head of what it could do to these people. It just brings another level that Stranger Things needed to keep their audience intact.

I’m not sure you even need to be a horror fan to enjoy the greatness of Stranger Things: Season 1. That’s because it has so much going for it beyond that aspect. The script is great, the music is great, and the tension between the characters is compelling to another degree. A throwback to the ‘80s, a disappearance mystery, a monster element, a high school drama: there is so much for everyone. Stranger Things is setting up for what should be a very interesting second season.

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Author: Andrew Dodderidge View all posts by

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