This show is unarguably one of Netflix’s most impressive productions, serious props to The Duffer Brothers for its flawless inception and execution. They pulled a lot of references together citing Steven King, Spielberg & John Carpenter as sources of inspiration for this series. It’s construction and direction were made into something of an art.
The cast is a collection of new and old faces. Most of the child stars were relatively unknown previous to starring in this but their performances are quite breathtaking. Child actors here really set a new standard that will be hard for others to live up to or surpass. The casting crew auditioned 906 boys to find their male leads and 307 girls to find their Eleven. Millie Brown (Eleven) had a head start as Stephen King tweeted singing her praises. The kids were all asked to watch “Stand By Me”, “The Goonies” & “Poltergeist” to prepare for the roles.
Then we’ve got our veterens; Winona Ryder, David Harbour along with a few new faces to our screens that made quite the impression.
Our story follows a trio of inquisitive boys and their curious new friend “Elle” (short for Eleven) whom they find in the middle of the night whilst searching for their missing comrade Will.
We have Michael, who’s character somewhat takes precedence over the other males, he bonds with Eleven and hides her from the “Bad Men”. I’ll point out that this particular trio are highly intelligent and curious for their age – Hugh Everett’s “Many Worlds Theory” is involved in the series in quite the tantalizing manner.
“Lucas” the easily-irritable & suspicious one in the group. The actor playing him, Caleb, asked to wear a camouflage bandana as part of his character and did in the last three episodes.
We have my personal favourite “Dustin” who’s pre-adolescent lisp is one of the most damn adorable things you’ll find on-screen. He’s also a large part of the comic relief in this show. The fact that he’s missing his two front teeth aswell is just perfection.
Now for the hook of the series, the real protagonist and belle of the ball, the mysterious “Eleven”. The directors wanted Eleven to emulate characters like E.T and Edward Scissorhands who had very few lines but had incredibly powerful & evocative eyes, and whose presence on screen had a certain weight. (metaphorical not literal)
The mystery that shrouds her character is slowly and cleverly paced throughout the episodes. You start to become incredibly intrigued and want to know her history and the full extent of her extrasensory abilities. The slow and steady flashback narrative that continues throughout the episodes is done perfectly. Girls got power. Literally.
We’ve got the glorious character “Hopp” / the chief of police in Hawkins (where the show is set) – who has some wise wise notions about the world. There’s not a huge amount of laughs throughout the series but nearly all of the ones that are there come from this man. His temperament and demeanor are a little Gregory House-esque.
There’s some words to live by coming out of Eleven, though she doesn’t say much; it actually gives what she does speak more gravitas and weight.
This series is challenging, insightful, dark and at times and when we’re shown some of the things Eleven had to endure it really cuts you.
There are some lines in this show that are surprisingly insightful and thought-provoking, like Hopp discussing the concept of the cosmos : “Sarah, my daughter, galaxies, the universe, she always understood that stuff, i always figured there was enough going on down here i never needed to look elsewhere.” Few philosophical tones run throughout it too. The cinematography in this show really is a cut above the rest, have a peek at a few chosen stills i took. (I’ll add some more soon)
The entire series was shot on a digital cinema camera but to achieve the “vintage” look, they added a layer of scanned film grain to the colouring process. They also really know how to build anticipation in this show – and how to end an episode both beautifully and maddeningly as you need to watch on.
This inspired creation is quite an all-inclusive one, it is very much part of the Drama, Mystery, Sci-fi and Horror. But also has some quite witty and laugh out loud moments – granted their few and far between but its an incredible piece of work – it very much deserves the hype its received! So start watching because the second series will be released in October 2017 (that’s only one month away) & something supernatural awaits.