Stranger Things (Season 1)

“When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one strange little girl.” That’s the teaser line for the new Netflix series, Stranger Things. It’s an 8-episode season (less than 60 minutes per episode)  that you can binge-watch on a lazy day, as I just did.  It transpires in the 1980s.

The story focuses on 4 friends, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Will (Noah Schnapp). They play Dungeons and Dragons together, and after one gaming session, Will returns home, but is spooked by something, we don’t know what. He tries to run to safety, but that’s the last we see of him. His mother Joyce (Wynona Ryder) calls the police after she can’t find him, and the police start a search. There is no evidence, and no trail. Joyce and her older son Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) are distraught, but try to soldier on.

Elsewhere, a little girl (Millie Bobby Brown) gets caught trying to steal food from a diner. The owner feeds her and calls Social Services, but something’s off about her, starting with her shaved head. She says very little, if she’s the victim of abuse and has escaped.

Something is really wrong here, and yes, the government is involved. There are more than a few influences in the story from the 80s. Without even thinking, I can come up with E. T., The Goonies, and The Firestarter, but that doesn’t matter, because those plotlines mesh in different ways, instead of seeming like this show rips them off.

Stranger Things takes place in the 1980s, and borrows from the time. It stirs up strong feelings of nostalgia, especially for those who’ve lived through the decade. The look of the film fits the era, as does the soundtrack. It’s from a time before Cell Phones and the connectivity we all take for granted, now. Many movies of the 80s used soundtracks created by Tangerine Dream, and this music pays homage. Throughout the series, smaller snippets of 80s songs are used, including several from T.D. itself.

If you have a Netflix subscription, you really need to watch this. It does have an element of horror, so be forewarned, it will probably be too scary for younger and more squeamish audiences. I’ve read it has been renewed for a second season, and I suspect it will be as great as this season turned out to be.