TV Series Review: Stranger Things (2017)
Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, and Noah Schapp with Sean Astin and Paul Reiser
Production: The Duffer Brothers
Genre: SyFy, Horror
My Rating: *****/5
On October 27, the highly-acclaimed series “Stranger Things” began streaming its second season on Netflix. While the first season set a very high pedigree for the show and Netflix productions in general, the second season greatly expands the mythology of the show and sets the stage for even more thrills and paranormal scares for the planned third and fourth seasons.
The year is 1984, one year after the events of the first season. As Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) tries to celebrate Halloween, he is still plagued by visions after his return from the mysterious parallel universe known as the “Upside Down.” He then opts to join his friends in trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding their home in a small town in Indiana, with nothing being as it seems.
This new season expands the story and characterization, exploring more of the concepts introduced in the first season. The show is a loving homage to the paranormal films and TV shows of the 1980s, heavily influenced by the early works of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter among countless others. Will celebrates Halloween alongside friends Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) dressed as the Ghostbusters; and a mysterious beast that would not be out of place in the works of H.P. Lovecraft threatens to consume the land and plunge it into darkness.
Although the first season set the bar very high for its unique blend of nostalgia and terror (whose success would be echoed by other works such as this year’s remake of Stephen King’s “IT”), the Duffer brothers have risen to the occasion of following the massive success of the first season.
The visuals and soundtrack are rife with shout-outs to 1980s culture, and the already stellar casting is enhanced with the additions of new characters played by Sean Astin and Paul Reiser.
Still, the biggest appeal the show has is arguably the simplest: it depicts a part of America that no longer exists and paranormal phenomena that never existed at all.
With the third and fourth seasons currently in development as of this writing, the second season of “Stranger Things” delivers on following the high expectations set by the first season. It is truly the gold standard for content on Netflix and worth binge-watching for anyone who wants to get immersed in its world.
Review by Steven Pryor