Stranger Things: A Love Letter to the Past
When you become an adult, the world can seem like a pretty serious and crappy place to be. Most of us attempt to create our own little bubbles, and for some, that includes using entertainment as a type of escapism.
Were you like me? A horror kid? Hiding under blankets or staring right into the screen trying to figure out how the special effects were done? When I first watched “Stranger Things,” I felt completely and utterly transported back to my childhood. This nostalgia allows us to link the present with the past and can give us that warm, fuzzy feeling we remember so well. In fact, here we are, 33 years old and still dressed in our skull pajamas, wrapped in a Star Wars blanket, watching Halloween for the 55th time.
“Stranger Things” has had an incredible reception, which isn’t surprising. It has a brilliant plot line, a wonderful cast of characters, and most importantly, the ability to take us down memory lane. You can spot the odd horror movie posters paying homage to the genre, but there are some very specific parallels to look out for.
Dear God, that thing is horrible… what is it? Who knows and who cares because we bloody love a good mystery. What is very obvious with this frightful thing is its similarities to other monsters. Think about Ridley Scott’s Alien, the monstrous Predator, and to some extent the creature from John Carpenter’s The Thing. All we know is that it isn’t of this world.
When those credits came up, I felt like a kid again watching a John Carpenter film. Synth is always associated with that 80’s sound, especially in movies. So if you hear that synth, you know it will be a good film… maybe… sometimes… okay, so it is a gamble.
She may look terribly innocent, but my word, this young girl packs a punch! Remind you of anyone? Yes, I am talking about Carrie… that odd, yet compelling young woman with those telekinetic powers that kill. Eleven reminds me a lot of her but with less of the teen problems – after what poor Elle has been through, I think she has enough problems of her own without thinking of a school prom.
Boys on bikes. Forever friends. Yes, I thought of The Goonies with a pinch of The Lost Boys. That very close-knit friendship, strategic planning for their adventures, and friends until the end is exactly the formula we witness through the series. Like all good friends, they have their ups and downs, but ultimately they are a gang of good kids who want to fight evil.
Weird girl comes to town, boy hides her, she exhibits superpowers – familiar? There’s no moon montage in sight, but this is very much a throwback to the plot of E.T. Elle is essentially an alien to these kids, a secret they have to hide.
People often think looking back can be a bad thing, and yes, it is if we are linking it to negative experiences, but not when it comes to films. Firstly, nothing is original. Secondly, most ideas are stolen and remade. Lastly, most film directors are writing a love letter to their childhood films. It is the perfect remedy to the mindless reality TV shows thrust upon, some of which are horrors themselves.
We must thank the Duffer Brothers. Not only have they made something quite brilliant, but hopefully they can turn lots of viewers on to some of the best made films of our time.