Netflix proves once again to be worth its weight in subscription prices with the 8-part miniseries "Stranger Things". Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer, aka The Duffer Brothers (“Wayward Pines”, “Hidden”), team with Producer Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum”, “Real Steel”) to bring you a dose of your childhood if you grew up in the 1980s. If you didn't, I'm very sorry.
Luckily, the trio have captured the feeling and look of the decade so those who didn’t have the good fortune to can successfully wish you were there playing with original "Star Wars" toys and sneaking into movie theaters to see John Carpenter's " The Thing". Of course, I highly doubt any of you or your friends had to battle supernatural forces like the talented group of child actors do in what I can only call a must-watch for any sci-fi or horror fans.
In "Stranger Things", Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) lives in a small Indiana town in 1983. When Joyce's 12-year-old son, Will (Noah Schnapp), goes missing, she launches a terrifying investigation into his disappearance with local authorities. As they search for answers, they unravel a series of extraordinary mysteries involving secret government experiments, unnerving supernatural forces, and a very unusual little girl (Millie Brown).
I can't even begin to tell you what a great cast of kids make "Stranger Things" the joy to watch that it is. These boys really do capture the essence of the children of the '80s. Winona Ryder is fabulous as the mother of one of the children whose life comes crumbling down around her when her child goes missing. It's hard to believe the Gothic girl in "Beetlejuice" is now old enough to play her own mother in that classic Tim Burton film. The entire cast of "Stranger Things" makes the show a chilling delight to watch.
One mother writes the alphabet on the wall and puts a light bulb on each letter as a way for her son to spell things out for her, which is very similar to how a Ouija board works. I'm not saying either of these were intentional, but I found it interesting as a Christian who loves picking apart horror movies from a Biblical viewpoint.
"Stranger Things" is rated TV-14 for violence, gore, profanity, adult situations, smoking and drinking, and frightening and intense scenes. Much like Spielberg's films of the 1980s, the kids have foul mouths. Besides the violence and gore, there's also plenty of goo and slime to go around. For folks who don't watch horror or sci-fi thrillers often, a lot of what they'll see onscreen will be unsettling.
Imagine if Steven Spielberg and Stephen King brought their two minds together and wrote a screenplay over a month-long game of Dungeons and Dragons and you'll get a good picture in your mind of what to expect from "Stranger Things". The entire 8 hours of the mini-series plays out like a well-executed and unique blending of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "Poltergeist", "It", and "Stand by Me".
Everything the Duffer Brothers learned about the 1980s, they lovingly mined from hours of immersing themselves in the classic sci-fi and horror movies of the decade. Audiences for the wonderfully nostalgic "Stranger Things" are all the better for their preoccupation with the pop culture and cinematic treasures of the past.