There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ~ Hamlet Act I, Scene V
In July 2016, Netflix debuted a new series, Stranger Things, a show which has quickly gained widespread popularity for its pace and character driven plot.
Labelled supernatural, horror, science-fiction, the series is less horror and more thriller, viewing like an extended X-Files episode crossed with a Spielberg movie.
Set in 1980s America the story centres around the lives of four twelve-year old boys Will, Lucas, Dustin and Mike. They love playing Dungeons and Dragons, have full sets of Star Wars figurines and love riding their bicycles around the sleepy streets of their hometown Hawkins, Indiana.
Somewhat geeky and fringe-dwelling these boys have their lives turned upside down one of them, Will, suddenly disappears.
The boys encounter a mysterious run-away known only as Eleven, a girl who exhibits telekinetic and psychic powers. Convinced Eleven’s skills can locate Will, the boys launch a search for their friend while the local Sheriff Jim Hopper aids Will’s mother and brother to investigate his whereabouts. In the process, Hopper exposes a broader conspiracy around unorthodox experiments in a nearby powerplant.
Stranger things do indeed soon occur as Will’s mother Joyce becomes convinced Will is alive and communicating with her through electric surges and flickering lights in her home. Initially concerned for his mothers sanity, Will’s brother Jonathan is increasingly drawn into sinister supernatural occurrences which threaten the lives of everyone in their small town.
A large part of the show’s appeal is the rich references throughout to 80s popular culture – Spielberg and Lucas films, Stephen King novels, clothes, toys and songs from the era. From its heavily synthesized soundtrack and red neon title sequence, the homages to 80s have struck an appeal with adult audiences of that vintage [myself included].
Moreover, the child stars of the show are delightfully cast, in particular Millie Bobby Brown playing Eleven gives a standout performance.
The 8 episode series is written and directed by Matt and Ross Duffer. The Duffer Brothers have captured well a story of adventure, an epic classic clash of good verses evil, and have wrapped it up in a compelling detective genre piece.
Most notable is the person of Eleven, an innocent yet powerful child who seems responsible for the evil unleashed in the town of Hawkins Indiana, at least for opening a portal for evil to be released. At the same time she is the only one capable of stopping it.
Eleven represents a mysterious saviour, a messiah if you will, the only one capable of facing true evil and exterminating it.
Well, by self sacrifice of course.
If this revelation is a spoiler to any reader, my apologies extend as far as to add this caveat…. A self sacrificing saviour is a such a standard piece of epic myth and legend, so present in masterworks of literature, film, theatre and opera, that one can no longer count it a surprise twist.
More a cathartic reminder.
Good wins over evil, light vanquishes the dark, love sacrifices self. Selah.