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Review: "Stranger Things"

Screenshot from Netflix. 

What do you get when you combine the eeriness of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks with the 80’s nostalgia of films like The Goonies? Unsurprisingly, a captivating television show is born from this fusion of cult classics. Since it premiered on July 15, 2016, Matt and Ross Duffer’s Stranger Things has quickly earned a well-deserved spot alongside other Netflix original hits, staking claim as their third most watched program in its first month.

Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, Stranger Things tells the story of the inexplicable circumstances surrounding the disappearance of 12-year-old Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) and his family and friends’ dedication to finding him. Will’s mother, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), searches desperately for her son and comes to believe supernatural forces are at work. While she teams up with police Chief Hopper (David Harbour) to uncover the truth, Will’s three best friends find themselves entangled in an adventure of their own as they look for him, complete with a telekinetic girl, middle school bullies and a paranormal government conspiracy.

The acting is impeccable, and every performance is packed with clever dialogue and raw emotion. Ryder, who always shines in unconventional roles, is pitch-perfect in her portrayal of a grieving parent turned monster hunter. Just as impressive are the cast members making their television debuts, who effortlessly dominate every scene they are in. Breakout star Millie Bobby Brown, who plays the almost silent and otherworldly Eleven, manages to steal the show solely through her striking behavior and powerful facial expressions. Even minor characters have garnered obsessive followings with their wit (i.e. the Internet’s obsession with Barb).

Although the series’ main plot veers toward being downright frightening, there is no shortage of humor and heartwarming moments in each episode. Will and his older brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) bond over The Clash and Eleven develops an infatuation with Eggo waffles. Not to mention the developing friendship among all of the younger characters is downright adorable.

Despite only having eight one hour long episodes in its first season, Stranger Things perfects the art of storytelling with just the right blend of sci-fi, horror and an engrossing mystery. The series never once stumbles from its meticulously developed plot, and each episode blends seamlessly into the next. The final episode concludes with enough answers to satisfy viewers, while leaving plenty of cliffhangers to ensure the story’s continuation.

Season two is set to pick up a year after the events of season one and premiere with nine episodes and new characters in 2017.

ljakiel@theeagleonline.com


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