Details: Released on Netflix in 2016. Eight episodes in total with each episode about an hour-long. Stars a bunch of kids. The most recognizable adult actor is Winona Ryder.
After the overwhelming barrage of positive reactions to the Stranger Things show, I finally decided to give it a watch. It was okay.
The premise is this: a kid disappears in a small town in 1980’s America. The kid’s friends and family try to find him and discover a supernatural horror is responsible.
This is a horror story, through and through. I enjoyed the interplay between the kids and it really reminded me of Spielberg’s use of nostalgia in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The majority of the series did not go in that direction though. I should confess that I am biased against the majority of horror movies and shows. Jump scares are cheap cinematic devices and show a lack of creativity in my opinion. Furthermore, when I see characters making obviously stupid decisions, the fourth wall just falls apart for me and I get yanked out of the experience. I deal with enough meaningless stupid in real life. Watching this kind of stupid in a work of fiction just makes me want to turn off the television, or in this case, my computer.
The performances were all pretty good. The kids were great. However, it’s hard for me to enjoy the performances of children because it always reminds me of the innumerable number of children whose lives were messed up by Hollywood. Show business often times screws kids up. The kids still did a great job. Maybe they’ll grow up all right.
Of the adult actors, Winona Ryder stands out, not because she was particularly good, but because her performance was memorably hysterical. She reminded me of Claire Danes in Homeland in her portrayal of constant, hysterical craziness. Actually, she reminded me even more of Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Claire Danes in Homeland when Hathaway was on Saturday Night Live. What I’m trying to say is Ryder was unconvincingly crazy to an almost comedic degree.
Overall, it was just okay. The show attempts a lot of things that mostly fell flat for me. I’m unsure if my reaction to this show is my own bias against horror or the show’s own failings. Either way, my reaction to the show is mostly one of indifference.