A Love Letter to “Stranger Things”

**Contains Mild Spoilers**

stranger-things Poster

Dear Stranger Things,

I haven’t been scared like that by watching a TV show in a long time. And I mean a long time. Not since Blockbuster still existed, and in my local Blockbuster their horror section still existed. It was in a tucked away corner of the store with black fabric hung from the walls, cobwebs lodged in corners and bite-sized action figures of Freddy, Jason and Pinhead stalking the shelves. My neighbor and I used to visit its less than hallowed ground during our teenage summers and check out the best, scariest and silliest flicks… Yes, Monkey ShinesI’m looking at you.

We saw people scream, get sliced up and of course, always forget to wear bras. The late seventies and early eighties were the hey day, with flicks like Alien, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. For me, these films–or at least the first move or two per series– came from the golden age of modern horror.

So when a friend raved about you over dinner last weekend, I had to give you a try. Right from the start with your synthesized music and your red neon titles in the most Stephen King of fonts, I was hooked. You seemed to pull the best bits from ’80s horror flicks and pop culture (anyone else see echoes of E.T. in the night biking scenes?) and strung them together to create something nostalgic yet utterly new. What I like about you is the mix of old jump scares– the jab of music paired with a figure darting across the screen or a deer being pulled into the dark–with sophisticated storytelling and compelling special effects that complemented rather than outshone the story. The Upside Down was creepy, but very real. Characters could touch and crawl through the goo, feel the cold and damp, and so we felt it too. You also made me push past my initial reaction to dark hallways with flickering lights à la the opening scene (read: eye roll) to appreciate how much storytelling a strand of Christmas lights can do, especially when flickering. Your blending of the worlds was incredible and provided tension, fear and a real sense of urgency that pushed the plot forward. It was even enough to make me ignore my nagging questions about parental absenteeism and a seemingly wholesale lack of school.

stranger-things-review-lights
Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers

I have read and enjoyed watching horror stories since I was probably too young to be reading or watching them, and now that I’m grown, I dip my toes into writing the supernatural as well. Where you succeed is your focus on the tale and how it’s told, rather than on torture porn or 2-D characters created only to die. Shadows, multicolored bulbs and Stand By Me- type friendships evoked so many emotions that I had to tell my husband after each episode how damn cool you were.

So thank you for eight solid episodes of excellent writing, cinematography, music and special effects. You did a hell of a job. (Or should I saw an Upside Down of a job?)

Sincerely,

A Fan


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