Back to IndieWire

Review: ‘Stranger Things’ is Still Waiting for Something New, To Make It Feel Alive

The stars are great — from comeback kid Winona Ryder to newbie Natalia Dyer — but "Stranger Things" could've used a little more foreign influence.

Stranger Things

“Stranger Things”

Netflix

During the buildup to “Stranger Things,” the Indiana-set Netflix original series was a bit hard to describe. Sure, it was about a group of kids searching for their missing friend who disappeared under suspicious circumstances, but what kind of show was it? “Was it a horror show? A kids’ show? A drama with kids but made for adults? Sci-fi that looked like a drama? Could my kids watch it? But would I like it? Wait — is that Winona Ryder?”

Well, after watching just a few minutes of The Duffer Brothers’ (as Matt and Ross Duffer dub themselves) eight-episode original series, it’s immediately clear what it is: It’s the PG-rated ’80s movie that would land a PG-13 today — your “Jaws,” “Indiana Jones,” and, yes, “E.T.” and 1977’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

The latter two examples are what the brothers draw from specifically (those and, oddly enough, “Halloween”/John Carpenter’s expansive early oeuvre) in creating an ’80s set homage to the decade, complete with bad haircuts, an electronic synth-driven score and Reagan-era paranoia. And while all these elements should please cinephiles, “Stranger Things” never establishes itself as anything more than a reminder of what was, instead of a celebration of past and present.

READ MORE: “Stranger Things”: 8 Movies from the ’80s That Inspired Your Latest Netflix Obsession

Stranger Things

“Stranger Things” kicks off like an “X-Files” episode (which works as ominous and accurate foreshadowing in that “The X-Files” was a ’90s show inspired by ’70s TV, like “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” but not so much “of the ’80s): a scientist tries to escape a dimly lit, eerily quiet underground bunker only to be attacked by an unseen beast. But rather than cutting to Mulder and Scully inappropriately flirting in a cohabited basement with agonizingly repressed sexual innuendos, “Stranger Things” shifts to four young boys playing Dungeons and Dragons in, yes, a basement. But they’re screaming about being attacked by a Demogorgon rather than “prepping” to “work” on a “case.”

From there, one of the friends disappears, the town goes into a (rather muted) panic and strange things start happening. And yes, to the town, they’re pretty strange: inexplicable disappearances; lights blinking in communication; a mysterious CIA blacksite. But to viewers, they should be fairly familiar, if not outright predictable.

It’s not that the major events of “Stranger Things” are executed poorly, either. The Duffer Brothers and the rest of the crew — including director/producer Shawn Levy — clearly have a passion for the past and recreate it with apt flair. The production design utilizes quite a bit of practical effects, adding to the ’80s aesthetic, and the CGI elements are an apt blend of convincing and outlandish. Eight episodes proves to be the perfect length, too, as the series cruises along at a steady clip without any signs of struggle.

Stranger Things

Yet the end result — we’ve seen all eight episodes — lacks a lasting impact. By checking all the boxes in appeasing its predecessors, the new series fails to surprise, even with its last minute twists. That being said, “Stranger Things” could become the nostalgic favorite of a new generation. Children uninformed of the past may be stricken by the scares and won over by the characters (whose development is a tad rushed, but the group remains empathetic). Because they haven’t seen “Close Encounters” or, hopefully, “Halloween,” they may cling to this as the years pass, especially if it gets picked up for more seasons.

For adults, though, “Stranger Things” ends up feeling more like an imitation of a modern movie paying homage to the ’80s than an authentic ode to ’80s films. Basically, it felt like an homage to “Super 8,” J.J. Abrams’ homage to Spielberg; an homage to an homage. And that’s fine — even when “Stranger Things” pulls from more recent Spielberg, namely “Minority Report” — but when this much raw talent clearly has this much love for a project (especially a project reliant on child actors who, it turns out, can actually act) it stings all the more when the result is only passing entertainment, and not something more.

The films “Stranger Things” honors transcended their genres. This seems happy to propitiate them.

Grade: B

Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV email newsletter here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , , ,


Comments

Matt Maitland

Not one mention of Stephen King in this article?!? So many references to kings work, it’s like an amulgam of Spielberg and King made into a great T.V. show. Read a book. One Halloween reference in the entire show, while nearly a dozen and counting references to IT. Don’t know where you’re coming from with this.

    TJ Baker

    Sorry Ben, I’m not sure what show you watched but like many others I just binged watched this show and loved it. An absolute 80’s Joygasm.

      stellar

      nah sorry only neophytes and novices will praise this show who have knowledge of the past will this. this show reeked of being a pale rip of tv show twin peaks being recycled in the style of steven spielberg and stephen king rather than the surrealism of david lynch. And the creators of the show know this which is why they are quick to cite other references rather than david lynch’s tv show. For those that dont know a girl turns up missing in a small, a detective then starts to investigate. While doing so, he uncovers strangeness in and around the town and then starts having weird visions. If you add a bit of x files and center on kids, what do you got?? A show that rips off rather than pays homage to all of these just mentioned shows. loool

        John Raymond

        perfect description. Exactly what I was thinking.

      stellar

      nah sorry only neophytes and novices will praise this show i.e. who have no knowledge of the past will like this. This show reeked of being a pale rip of the tv show twin peaks but just recycled in the style of steven spielberg and stephen king rather than the surrealism of david lynch’s tv series. And the creators of the show know this which is why they are quick to cite other references rather twin peaks. For those that don’t know the show twin peaks, a girl turns up missing in a small, a detective then starts to investigate. While doing so, he uncovers strangeness in and around the town and then starts having weird visions. If you add a bit of x files and center on kids instead of fbi agents, what do you got?? A show that rips off rather than pays homage to all of these just mentioned shows. loool

    Gogi

    An absolute horrible review written by someone who shouldn’t be reviewing. You drew a parallel to “Minority Report”, I guess you’ve never seen nor read “Firestarter”.

    While I did enjoy Stranger Things, it was influenced more by the works of King than… Well, anything the reviewer mentions.

    It, Stand by me, The Mist, Firestarter… Even bits from the dark tower series. Most of these works have been put to film, too… Which makes this reviewer woefully ignorant sounding.

      Dmotta

      Show was slow, they could have done it in four episodes, only good scene was when they found the body and David Bowie’s Heroes played. Solid scene. Other than that…zzz zzz zzz. I looked this review up cuz I couldn’t believe how many people jumped on the bandwagon of this mediocre show. I lived the 80’s and there’s nothing special about a show that just used merged a lot of movies from the era to wrap their boring plot line around. C-

    Chris McBob

    Chris

    LeslieHB

    Also heavily borrows from the Alien series, The Thing, Poltergeist, etc

    Duncan Ralston

    Sorry folks, references don’t make for influences. The only Steve in Stranger Things is Spielberg.

A Better Critic

This review is way off and the author may want to consider a different career. This is one of the best series I’ve seen in years. This was a great story line, and a momentum that left me glued to the screen for ALL 8 episodes!

    Chris McBob

    Albertinacan

    j

    bullshit. This show is garbage, the writer was more than fair.

    j

    bullshit. This show is garbage, the writer was more than fair. Get a life

Done with the 80's.

Dude this series is just more masturbatory 80’s crap. I think we’ve hit peak capacity for nostalgia haven’t we? Let’s be honest in admitting weird shit still happens and kids still have friends and hang out in the present as well.

    imno007

    @Done with the 80’s
    “Just more masturbatory 80’s crap”? I personally like the 80’s setting, but I like the show more for the creature and story and acting than the fact that it’s set in the 80’s.

    “Weird shit still happens and kids still have friends and hang out in the present as well”? Yes, yes they do. But do you want another show set in the present, where all the kids are always on their smartphones and tablets, constantly referencing Facebook and Twitter and the latest memes? You really think that would be preferable? ;)

    BallPtPenTheif

    Yes, it’s overly referential to the 80’s. But guess what, if you make this film today the kid uses his cell phone in the first 5 minutes and the FBI shows up to kill the monster. You probably don’t get this… but the suspense thiller movies you know and love, cannot exist today. They are dead. Their narrative trappings and tropes are dead. Technology killed them.

    People are connected now in a way that had never existed before.If we want those classic plotlines, then it has to be a period piece. And that what this is, a period piece. It’s not a johnny come lately hipster grab. You are old and your childhood is now a period film genre. get over it.

      Dheep'

      Yes, “get over it”. No matter your thoughts or opinion, if it is not of my Superior & Haughty attitude, it is wrong, suspect & therefore not worthy.
      So – Get Over It !
      (That’s MY trope & I’m stickin’ to it)

Rick

I’m halfway through the 3rd episode, and I’m wondering when something interesting will actually happen…

Jeff

This author clearly doesn’t know anything about what is a good show. This is so far the most unique and interesting show of the year. I just binged watch the whole season. I’m just amazed by all the detail to every aspect of this show.

    Sandy

    I LOVED this show I watched it all in one day.. Stayed up til 12:30 am to finish it! It was great! I gave it 5 stars!

christian j pasquariello

Super 8 homage. So true. Terrible. Check out the latest season of Fargo to see a true ode to an era.

JORGE MARTINEZ

JOKE REVIEW

    Gk

    ^That’s not a review at all.

JORGE MARTINEZ

AMAZING AND WELL CRAFTED SEASON.

G K

Uh i dont know what the author is thinking but i thought it was an awesome show. I hate shows because they take a long time to end but this one was different. I started watching it last night and continued until i could no more.

Nicholas

What a turd review. This is one of the most interesting on TV right now.

Aldo

While reading the review I was wondering if whoever wrote it was paid to just talk shit about it. What a joke of the review! To me this series is the best thing since Lost. I don’t remember when was last time I got so hooked up to a show like this one before. It’s one of the best tributes to Stephen King movies, with a truly remarkable set in the 80’s. So many references to great shows and movies.

angel_liz03

even the posters in the series, aah the little smile face needed a drop of stain blood, to be The Watchmen. to view this series brought the fears hidden in oneself . 5 ***** Go NetFlix I am going to buy a nightlight.

Anna

I think that sometimes reviewers purposefully write sh*t just to get clicks. Either that, or this guy is too young to appreciate all the 80s references that make this show delightful. Either way, I now know to disregard everything Indie wire has to say.

Nanette

This critic missed the boat. The series was awesome! The nailed everything I loved about 80s movies. ..from ET to John Hughes and stirred it in a pot. This was so fun for adults and kids. I wouldn’t change a thing!

Trish

From among the muck and drudgery of the Netflix horror/sci-fi selection arises this little gem. A ride definitely worth taking! The over analization of it’s 80’s flair is just, well, anal. The series makes no apologies for the Spielberg/King stylizations,and I’m glad that it doesn’t. The series’ lack of self indulgence make it a breath of fresh air. No Aqua Net necessary.

Dan

Terrible review. Anyone who hasn’t seen it should ignore this review and watch it – I thought it was great.

Seth

This was the best thing I’ve watched in a long, loooong, time. I don’t know how you could fail to find this show enjoyable, witty, exciting, and at times very moving; to the point where I was almost brought to tears watching it.
It is a triumph of cinema that I am honestly surprised made it to production given the immense amount of trash that the studios put out these days.
I look forward to a second season with great anticipation for what may lay in store.

Ness

This show is amazing!!! I can’t wait for the next season because I just burned through this one.

norman

I thought the pacing was really slow. Have only watched the first episode but was not really impressed by Winona R. at all! I thought she was horrible actually. Very disappointed in that.

Karen

I guess some critics take their jobs too seriously. The show was great and perfect at 8 episodes. Loved everything about it and it’s definitely worth a watch for the whole family, which is not something that can be said about a lot of shows nowadays.

Jo

Awful review. Watched this in two evenings. Excellent, gripping and caught the feel of the period brilliantly.

sinizt3r

Stranger Things the perfect homage to late 70s early 80s greats and not great but memorable films from altered states to stand by me, wait I think I just had a firestarter flash back characters reminiscent of the goonies and the gate.grade A 10 out of 10

Jamaica Knauer

Lol! This is the third review I’ve read on “Stranger Things,” and it’s the third one that doesn’t mention a thing about Stephen King! The show is basically a loving homage to the man’s work: “Fire Starter,” “It,” “Lisey’s Story”… Even the opening titles of the show are a copy of the font used for King’s book titles by Viking Press from, at least, the late 70’s on. The score is a nod to the sort of work Tangerine Dream did for the film adaptation of “Firestarter”. Sure there’s some Spielberg in there, but there’s far more King, and that’s what made me binge the entire series in one setting, despite the underdeveloped, but promising characters. I look forward to seeing whether or not the show, in the future, can make that one last important adjustment. It was great fun.

Draco Dunne

This series/film was excellent.The principle characters took me back to
the 1980’s. The majority of props were spot on for the time period.
There were a few technical flaws with the use of magnets in proximity
to electronic equipment. No overuse and over the top CGI. I always knew
the lunch staff was holding back. Proof that a big budget is not needed
to produce a quality experience. Found this by chance. Wife and I
watched 4 episodes on a Friday night and she changed her 56th birthday
plans to include the final 4 episodes Saturday. Stayed home instead of
going to the movie theater. Truly worth the time.

johnhurschelrunion

stephen king + twin peaks = stranger things. you have little kids battling a monster like in IT!

you have kids with powers like carrie + firestarter

you have government experiments like in firestarter

from twin peaks you have electricity, ceiling fans, blinking lights, a young person’s body found in a body of water as opposed to near water. all of the high school stuff is very much like twin peaks. there is also the concept of a dark universe almost co-existing with our’s.

matthew modine seems to be channeling directing david cronenberg.

the sound track at times is straight up john carpenter. some times the soundtrack is like a synth version of angelo badalamenti.

the men in their bio-hazard suits recall E.T. and the 1988 version of the blob.

the organic portal to the dark universe recalls john carpenter’s the thing and the 88 blob.

johnhurschelrunion

matthew modine seems to be channeling director david cronenberg.

Susan

This review is just lazy. There is nothing wrong with nostalgia, or a lack of nostalgia. What makes a good series, movie, or song, is the craftsmanship. This show is one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. To marry all of that nostalgia so perfectly, but make it compelling took skill. Also, I would compare this show to Fargo (TV series) and put them on the same playing field for sure.

Karen

Yes, it has King, Carpenter, Speilberg and the 80’s. The point is, it worked. I cannot wait for the next round.

Roland

This reviewer is high. The show was great and felt like childhood memories.

Tiffany

My oh my this 80’s nostalgia made my childhood flashback to me, the movies, bikes, walkie talkies. The childhood friendship was endearing. The creature was so creepy. I can barely watch any good shows with my husband because he is too ADD, but he was glued to it too! It’s about time a good show came out. I’m feeling the withdrawal since GOT ended. This filled my sci fi craving 100%. Please renew this!

Ron Park

This is a terrible review. This show is all the things that make this genre great. The soundtrack is awesome.

Krathyn White

Krathyn White

Krathyn White

Also, Stranger Things is basically a period piece and cannot be considered as’nostalgia for a new generation’. It’s only nostalgic for Generation Xers.

Subsequent generations, to which this author clearly belongs,can’t feel nostalgia for a period of time or life they didn’t actually live through.

Jamaica Knauer

Ok, in defense of the reviewer, he DID give it a “B!”

    Mark

    Exactly. This isn’t really a bad review. Good acting generally means good dialogue as well. I havent watched the show yet. This review made me curious…and the comments even more so.

Bob

This is why you don’t rely on on internet reviews anymore.

Brian

I feel you’ve been overly harsh on something that’s been made with a great deal of love. Binge watched it last night, and I felt that although it did remind me of Super 8, it was what I wanted Super 8 to be when I watched the trailer for it. As soon as I saw the credits I 80sgasmed, like The Dead Zone with Phantasm’s score. Get that review sorted out, it’s an A.

Scott

Newsflash: writer tries to be contradictory to get views. Writes an article about things he obviously knows very little about. You missed the mark dude.

Aimee

The fact that you don’t see that this is more Stephen King than Speilberg, tells me that you didn’t undertsand this show at all. The references flew over your head.

reb

Thanks, Pauline Kael, but I think I’ll go with all the commoners who liked it.

Eric

I pretty much think this review is dead on. I am 43. There are so many 80s movies crammed into this series that there was little originality and it was very predictable. Not to mention some sloppy work with things like cell phones not being an available house hold item in 1983, and HK UMPs that didnt enter production until the late 90s. Also, apparently the movie takes place in ’83, so then how does Wynona’s character have 2 tickets to see Poltergeist in the first episode? Poltergeist came out in 82….You may think i am being nit-picky, but those little details matter. It seemed like an enjoyable second rate show. But i guess in a day where every movie is a remake or a comic book movie and every TV show is basically a reality show, you have to take what you can get….

    Mark

    I haven’t watched the show. However, I grew up in a small town. Our movie theatre was several months behind in getting movies. So, Poltergeist being played in 83 is possible.

    V

    The scene in the first episode with the tickets to ‘Poltergeist’ was a flashback. If present day in the series is suppose to be ’83, then the flashback could have easily been ’82.

    Eriv

    Reviewer was too kind with a “B”. If I get nostalgic for the 80’s, having lived through them & hating most of the shit the Duffers rehash, I’ll watch the originals. Actors, kid & otherwise, just okay. Winona horrible as usual. As another commenter pointed out, almost a SNL parody. With less depth. Now you kids get off my fuckin yard.

    Co

    In for me it was the small details like a small theater, in a small town, running a movie from the year before that made this show so authentic in its portrayal of life in a poor/lower middle class family in the early 80’s. I am a child of the 80’s, raised by a mother with three children who was widowed when her kids ranged in age from 9 years old to 14 months. Life at Joyce’s house was similar to my own life, and seeing a second run movie at a small local theater was pretty standard entertainment for us that was affordable and still a treat in the early 80’s. I found this show to be the most honest and accurate portrayal of a life of a family in that class. In other words there are shows like the Goldbergs, which while entertaining the characters, clothing, decor… are just a caricature of 80’s stereotypes. The cordless phone did exist in that period, and while someone in Joyce’s life would not have one under normal circumstances, a mother trying to do anything to communicate with her missing child would find a way to get their hands on one.

    Rich

    Hi, I’m 40 and I was pretty much doing the same “accuracy auditing” as you. I didn’t find too many holes– except the one scene by Nancy’s locker, she had a trapper keeper. As I remember it, younger kids used trapper keepers– like elementary through late middle. I don’t think a high school kid would be caught dead with a trapper keeper– of course by the time I got to HS, it was the 90s and they were gone by then!

    Zack

    Eric, I bet you’re a blast at parties. The tickets were part of a flashback. Why couldn’t that flashback have been from 82?

Eric

*Not cell phones, but Cordless phones….

Eric

Character development was also seriously lacking for many characters. We never saw the toothless kid’s parents, nor the black kid’s parents. A girl lived in Mike’s basement for days before anyone but Mike and his buddies went down there (the mom in ep 7). We know that Mike’s parents are completely clueless and bad parents, but that could have been developed way more. Maybe it will in a coming season. Plus, it felt like the 3 kids didnt have very good chemistry. There was a lot of bickering that just seemed way too contrived. All in all, it was a fun watch, and maybe considering what kind of trash is sold in theaters and put on TV these days, this stands out, but it was far from being great. It never felt like its own show/series/movie. Just an amalgam of a decade’s worth of great movies which made it extremely predictable. The nostalgic ride was fun, though. I agree with the reviewer’s grade of a B.

Dheep'

Watched the 1st episode. It was okay. The Duffer Brothers sure did study their Dante & Spielberg didn’t they ?
Winona Ryder ? Pretty shrill & Unconvincing. The Kids? Pretty good.
I’m guessing the rest is going to be pretty uneventful with plenty of “Approaching red herring closed door as jump scare from the left happens”. And like most (not all) King novels, it is going to abruptly poop out with no adequate resolution.

    Gk

    I pooped out after six episodes and can’t be bothered with the resolution, lol.

      AtlantAnn

      I was a teenager in 1980 and 23 when the decade end. I didn’t like this show, although it was well made. I think this must resonate with people who are slightly younger than me, I’ve seen several similar comments on this page from people my age who just were not getting blown away by this show.

        Zack

        I was the same age as the kids in the show during the 80’s and for me it really nailed what life felt like then. There’s a really big difference in perspective between a 12 year old and even a 16 year old. This show I think was aimed at people my age. Kids in the 80’s doing kid stuff, rather than the popped collared Miami vice coke head scene.

Brian

I have watched it twice already. Loved it. Want more. I am 44 y.o. And the nostalgia worked for me. The interpersonal relationships worked well. Not a fan of ms. Ryder, she was a tad over the top, could have reeled in the huffing and puffing a bit, but for the situation her character was in; was not so bad. The girl who played 11 was amazing, amazing, stellar! That girl should have a bright future in film. Overall, this review is far from hitting the broadside of a barn. I don’t think I could recomend a Netflix series any higher than this. Found it to have a stylistic voice comparable to Sense8.

Brian

Let me just add again. The girl who played 11 is amazing. Especially last ep. She drove it home with her performance. In fact she outshines the rest of the cast.

Bob

I wonder how she escaped that place and is she alive because the sheriff left thoz eggos in the woods and that sucks so much because Mike has no one to go to the snow ball with

James

Brilliant piece of work ! Highest accolades to all involved, particularly brilliant acting by Winona, Matthew, the younglings and special mention to the young lady who played 11. The reviewer obviously is befuddled and confused, allowing his mind to be polluted with the works and failings of …some other writer and some other stories while this dramatization shows how it should be done.

Shane

The one thing I wish “The Thing” influenced more than anything in this show is the the use of practical monster effects. Everything else seems, to me, super genuine – and that’s one of the main reasons I loved it so much, but the use of CGI just crushes everything. “The Thing” is the one film where you could make the argument that you don’t need CGI to make cool looking monsters – and they blew it. And the monster was also totally unoriginal – I thought. I still loved it though. I spent my Sunday watching the whole thing.

Jacob

This show was incredible. What an awful review. It hit all the right notes for me and I can’t wait for the next season!

Henry

Did this reviewer even LIVE during the 80’s!? Well I did and I can’t even begin to tell you what a wonderfull, nostalgic treat this show is! It recaptured all the classic elements that made 80’s pop cinema so special. This show is amazing the the reviewer has no idea what they’re doing. Please go back to your day job.

Brian M Mammen

Great show so far, 4 episodes in and cant wait to see the rest. I am super happy that im dumb and can just enjoy this show for the story, the characters and the effects it would be unfortunate if i were to over analyze every minute detail and miss the beauty of any great show or book or work that has been developed with what seems to be a copious amount of love and detail for what has been created.

Gerry

I binged this so hard. Amazing series, I need season 2 now!!

Donovan Figgs

Another shining example of why critics never create. Talk about totally missing the boat! The point of this show *IS* the fact that it is so unapologetically 80’s and so clearly pays homage to the shows and films of that era. Even the music is completely on point and sounds exactly like it would have if this show had been made in the 80’s. You are just flat-out wrong, and have no business being a critic if you’re doing it just to be obstinate.

Donovan Figgs

As someone else noted, the reviewer gave it a “B”. Yeah, so what was that? Is Ben Travers so gutless that he can’t even give the show a score that reflects his bad review? Or did he hope that by giving it a somewhat decent grade he would stem the vitriol that he so richly deserves for his completely delusional thoughts about this series?

Erin

I’m really enjoying this show and while I appreciate the Stephen King comparisons, no one has mentioned that the storyline with the little girl is a straight rip from Dean Koontz’s book The Door to December. Still enjoy it though. Love the nostalgia and E.T. vibe.

    Jeff

    Thank you! I was beginning to think I was the only one who read The Door to December. The opening credits should read ‘Based on the book…’

      Diana

      Yes! I immediately thought of Door to December! I’m really enjoying this show. I feel so nostalgic watching it, like I’m 8 years old and I’m back in the 80’store.

Dawson

This review actually made
Me
Pissed off enough to need to
Comment. This review is such horse shit, and I agree completely – this should likely just be removed as I have not been so excited about a show in a very long time. Please quit your day job Ben. You truly are absolutely terrible at reviews, and clearly missed the entire point of the show as evident from your awful account of what the show is about. – Ill assume you didn’t have much of a childhood, or an imagination. For anybody reading this – go watch the show immediately, you will not be disappointed!

    Jody

    yes! agree!

Redline

First 2 episodes definitely inspired from Firestarter (The Tangerine Dream like music score), E.T and to a certain extent Species.

Michelle

Loved it…it was something i couldnt stop watching. Cant wait for season 2. It felt good to watch something i hadnt read to much about…amazing cast..loved everyone.

Tom

Didn’t realise a B is now considered a bad grade for a show. I actually agree with a lot of points in this review and would have graded it even lower. The first two episodes were promising, but the rest of series fell into a depressingly derivative step, every character becomes a lazy stereotype at an alarming speed, so by the last couple of episodes almost every scene became predictable. Like, characters don’t have to have a tragic backstory, at least not as banal as a dead child, to make them interesting. It’s lazy writing or reflects a lack of confidence in the character’s personality. Also, am I the only one who thought the score had zero personality? I loved the theme music, but didn’t expect every damn scene would feature faux 80’s electronica/tron soundtrack music (it also sounded too clean and sanitized to be compared to Carpenter’s stuff i think). The scores of Spielberg’s and Dante’s earlier films make up a serious part of their charm and really help them balance between fear and awe or joy. The music Stranger Things uses gives some of the scenes a music video feel, which isn’t a compliment.
Anyway, I did enjoy the show, but not sure why it’s getting so much love though, unless you were quite young like the Ben Travers points out. Lots of people must be experiencing peak-nostalgia for the 80’s i guess. Also, people need to chill when someone has a different opinion, especially when it’s about something as harmless as a Netflix show.

    Zack

    People who have problems with predictability are often missing theme and tone cues that are creating an emotional response. If you approach art with that perspective it’s probably best you watch super weird and disturbing crap, or maybe just do some math.

GK

This review is totally fair. The show is ok. Not bad but definitely not great. The fact that people stayed up all night binge watching it tells you they weren’t thinking clearly and have overrated it, driven by their own 80s nostalgia.

The happiest

Happy Dude

Clint Jordan

Please sack this idiot reviewer, he really must be on drugs! What the heck was he reviewing, The Khardashians maybe. Clearly not one of the best shows on Netflix. This show would be an absolute hit on cable tv. Man! I am so angry with this review.

    Clint Jordan

    “Clearly not one of the best…” Should have been CLEARLY ONE OF THE BEST! I was angry writing, sorry, lol

Shea

I just finished episode five and went on the web to search for “Stranger Things series, sucks” because, well, it sucks a big one. I’m old enough to have seen Close Encounters, ET, Jaws, etc., in their original theater releases. And as someone else on another site mentioned, there comes a point where “homage” turns into “rip off.” These brothers haven’t an original bone in their respective bodies. The only thing I have enjoyed about watching this series – and yes, I’ll take to the end, laughing all the way – is there are a few good actors (no, not Winona who is badly directed in this one), some of the younger ones (not all of the younger ones). I think what these Duffers are doing is more along the lines of all the teen scream movies where movie goers were supposed to feel smarter than the dumb girl who “shouldn’t go in there,” or who “shouldn’t be doing that” because, you know, she “might” get killed, eaten, whatever, and yet she does it anyway. Can someone say simplistic? Yeah, I knew you could. The writing for Stranger Things is banal, the directing is juvenile, and Netflix got snookered by greenlighting what appears to be a film school cinema project. I won’t be watching for another season. And I’m not surprised that so many people like it – we’ve been dumbed down for years, most of all in the movies we watch. So, I’ll get back to being dumb and finish out the series. But if this is what is ahead of us with the new breed of filmmaker, god help us.

    Keith

    Stop living in the past old man. This series was great! Ever thought that maybe you are just too old to relate to it. Can you even remember being a kid anymore? I doubt it if your comment is any indication.

      Exo

      “Stop living in the past” says yet another 30-something overgrown child who can’t think beyond their own mindless nostaligia-obsessed binge-watching state of ecstasy to actually apply a critical perspective to this overrated pulp. One review above actually uses the word “joygasm.” That tells you the all you need to know about people’s objectivity with this crap. You grew up in the 80’s. Great. Now grow up.

        A Person

        Whenever someone asks how Donald Trump got nominated for a candidacy for the highest seat in the US government, I can just point them to this thread.
        People are stupid and their taste is so much worse.
        Stranger Things is a rip-off and has nothing to say.
        Even the soundtrack is a rip-off.
        It’s poorly acted and written.
        It’s what I consider the new bellwether for if I believe a person has lousy taste.
        “Did you watch Stanger Things?”
        “Yeah, it was fucking awesome.”
        *walks away*

          AtlantAnn

          LOLOLOL I’m loving watching the millennial narcissism in these comments, if you didn’t like the show, you’re either old, dumb, a jerk, etc. Honestly? The show wasn’t that good. It was mediocre, at best. For some REAL 80s set styling and nostalgia, watch The Americans…. It’s realistic and truly captures the era, with better writing, acting, directing, set and wardrobe styling, plot line, etc etc etc

    Zack

    I think you’re too old to get it. You don’t understand how to play anymore.

Bill

Wow… this is really rich considering the mediocre navel gazing garbage that indie film sites like this shower with hyperbole that all have NOTHING to say, ZERO sense of craft, terrible scripts that seem to have outright contempt for their audience, AND an obvious lack of life experience with seemingly zero interest in portraying anything resembling a real human onscreen. Maybe when just one of the indie films that usually have gotten to a point of being talked about in the media through disgusting nepotism actually lives up to the hype, people will actually listen to your worthless opinion. Cause it’s been a long time since Brick, Primer, Following, Pi, hasn’t it fellas? That’s okay, just keep telling us what this year’s version of those indie classics is, while the kind of out-of-left field talent outting itself those indies of yesteryear represent NO LONGER HAPPENS AT FILM FESTIVALS CAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE THIS REVIEWER. Again – you wouldn’t know a well written, well crafted film with interesting characters played by great actors unless, perhaps, it was projected inside of your bowels since that’s where you keep your head when watching films.

Not to mention, as others have stated, you’re also obviously very young and weren’t there for King in his heyday otherwise you’d have picked up on the fact that of the two Steves, King is the one that tips the scale in terms of influence on this show. That or you’ve never picked up a damn book either.

    Exo

    What does this show “have to say?” I’ve seen more compelling episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with better monsters as well.

    Also, you seem to have issues way beyond your bizarre hatred for “indie” films.

    Also, don’t brag about reading Steven King.

      Zack

      Your name is dumb and your mom smells like dog poop.

Jacob

Honestly whoever employs the guy who wrote this review should just fire him… he obviously hasn’t got a clue. If he works for himself- he should even consider letting himself go. Worst review ever. This show was amazing in every way. A+

H.um

I think this review is ok. His parameters are not of the mayority of happy people whatching GoT o some other crappy TV. If you like it, that’s ok, but to be frank, it’s quite slow and predictable, even the references are already a cliche, and that makes it boring.

Debbie

After watching the trailer, I can’t help but think that this seems an awful lot like Dean Koontz “Door to December.” For those who enjoy horror novels–many will see this as another rip off from a great author. Some comments mention Stephen King. Did they steal his ideas too?

    Zack

    You have too much hate in your heart.

logan

Add my voice to the binge watched adult loving super fan from everything 80’s too! I grew up on all of these things, and am an avid lover of speilberg. This show put his money where his mouth is, the gauntlet has been dropped, I daresay. The show was absolutely fantastic and I hardly ever watch any TV shows even on netflix. I was drawn to by the drove of friends.

James

Well I for one agree with the review. Enjoyed the show, but it was a bit too dumb to be “great”.

Courtney

This review isn’t as off-based as many of the comments have made me believe. Is this a good show with great acting and craftsmanship? Yes. Is it great? No. I would have appreciated it more if the series emulated it’s predecessors rather than directly mimicked.

    Zack

    Emulate and mimick are synonyms.

Keith

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but reviews like this annoy the hell out of me because it really seems like whenever a series or movie comes along that is something special that is loved by the majority of people that watch it, there’s always the very small group of people that have to try to take it down a notch. Why? I checked meta critic and saw a 75% score. I checked the reviews which were mostly positve and then I come across one that literally saws the show is “crap” and gave it a score of 0. Seriously?! GTFOH!

Jody

Ben, Ben, Ben… you couldn’t be farther from the truth, Stranger Things is new, inventive, refreshing, it brings back the scare without the gore, the characters, the plot, the music, it’s so amazingly well constructed. It offers the perfect balance of Sci-fi/Horror. I loved it! It was seriously hard to turn off the show after watching the first 4 episodes the other night because I had to get up for work in 5 hours… I told clients, co-workers, friends and family to watch this, The Duffer Bros nailed it, hands down!

Colin

I agree with the reviewer completely. The show is well-crafted and entertaining, but I was somewhat irritated by all the homagery going on. It was too distracting for me, playing “spot the reference”. I am a child of the 80’s and, nowadays, when I’m feeling nostalgic for 80’s cinema, I do something completely insance like rewatch a movie FROM the 80’s.

Chris

Every reviewer is entitled to their point of view. Personally I really enjoyed it, but I agree that this much more Stephen King writing Spielberg than an outright Spielberg referee. It’s also a shame it doesn’t pay tribute to Winona’s fierce performance which is where the show connected for me emotionally.

    Mostly harmless

    My wife talked me into watching this show. She was impressed by the online hype. I tried to give it a chance.
    Maybe I’m too old. I was in my twenties in the eighties. Yes, I’ve read King , Koontz, and have seen Super 8, etc. Unless your seriously into the homage thing, this is a show you’ll only want to watch when there’s nothing else on cable, Hulu, YouTube, or whatever that interests you. I guess the fine line between homage and cliche escapes me.
    If I saw a trailer of this , I would think it’s an SNL parody of the 1980s horror movies .
    The girl 011, might have a future.
    Sincerely ,
    Grumpy old man.

Nick

The outraged fanboys and girls responding with fury really need their heads examined. The reviewer liked it and didn’t love it. What a travesty! He think’s differently than you? The horror. Seriously, get a life. See a therapist. Take a xanax. If one ever needs a summation of how screwed our social behavior has become, let this thread be ‘Exhibit A.’

donny

This series was very poor. All style and no real dramatic tension. Winona should never be allowed to act. A load of hype with very little to back it up.

Anna

I’ve only seen two episodes of this show. So far it’s fairly predictable with not much character development. I am waiting on episode three, but I’m not too excited about the characters. If anything, I’m looking forward to seeing this ‘other dimension’ I believe these kids are all popping off to.

Winona is great in it. She’s one of my favorites. But it’s like she’s trying to imbue life into a lifeless character / situation. No offense, they’ve spent too much time looking for a kid I don’t know or care about.

Rob

People are getting way too bent out of shape here. It’s pretty pathetic that some people are demanding that the author be fired because they hate his less enthusiastic appraisal of Stranger Things.

I’m an 80s kid, and I agree with him. It’s good, not great. I can admire the loving detail put into the production design. And some of the actors are really good, and I liked the core group of friends. But this still feels like a mish mash of a bunch of different movies. You have a bit of Close Encounters, a bit of Firestarter, a bit of ET, maybe a bit of Phantasm, Watchers and D.A.R.Y.L.L. thrown in the mix. But i never got a sense that Stranger Things became it’s own entity.

Nostalgia is nice and all, but what’s better I’d when you can emulate the strengths of films from older decades rather than just trying to imitate them.

    Jason

    We are of the same mind. Only part way into ep1 and I’m overwhelmed with myriad 80s references. Too many genres all packed together. It’s like going from one cliché to another, but never really getting to the substance. With so many non-sequitur musical and visual references, I’m surprised they didn’t pay more attention to detail. I just threw in the towel when I heard the 1987 version of Hazy Shade of Winter (The Bangles). I mean… come on… if you’re gonna be so hardcore in genre referencing, try to be accurate. The show is set in 1983, ffs. LOL

Gas Mann

Gas Mann

Gas Mann

It definitely is like the 1980s in that the cast is 98% white, and the show is focused on a white family — that was the TV and film landscape then, too. The 1980s was a great time to be white and a token minority sidekick.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *