I can now proudly attest that the esteemed Audre Myers, perhaps the one figure at the epicenter of my personal blogosphere, has contributed her first piece to The Portly Politico. What a treat! Even the way that Audre contacted me about her contribution is quintessential Audre: she framed it as giving me a day off from the blog. Very sweet!
Audre also shares my love of the spooky, the weird, the unexplained. One of the first ways I became acquainted with Audre’s interests were her posts about Bigfoot over at Nebraska Energy Observer. Here was someone writing with depth and seriousness—not conspiratorial goofiness—about Sasquatch!
That love of spooky weirdness is perfect for Audre’s contribution this week: her broad review of the series Stranger Things, one of my personal favorite series as well. The fourth season has just hit Netflix, so Audre offers up her take on the series as a whole—without giving away any of the fun plot points!
So, for the four of you out there that still haven’t seen Stranger Things, here’s Audre’s excellent review of and recommendation for the series:
I am on the ++ side of 50 and I grew up on horror movies, monster movies, Twilight Zone; the first book I read – that I chose for myself from my elementary school library – was an Edgar Allan Poe compilation. I’ve been a fan of ‘things that go bump in the night‘ for a very long time. A lot of that genre can be, ummm, less than spectacular, as The Portly Politico’s Monday reviews can attest (love Port’s and 39 Pontiac Dream’s reviews of really bad horror movies!). But sometimes … sometimes, you can stumble upon a nugget of gold.
Season four of Stranger Things has finally dropped to Netflix and I am over-joyed. Created and produced by Matt and Ross Duffer, they have accomplished quite an amazingly satisfying series – regardless of the age of the viewer. Like The Walking Dead, Stranger Things has a fan base with a huge demographic – from pre-teens to folks ‘of a certain age’, like me. Here is the link to their Wikipedia page if you’d like to know more about them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duffer_brothers
Something is going on in Hawkins, a little town in Indiana. Something not right; something strange, as a matter of fact. A group of misfit pre-teens become aware of the strangeness and there starts the story that will not only grab you but impel you to watch all of the seasons of the show. A great many people have a certain discomfort with child actors but I have to attest that, in this case, the casting couldn’t have been any better. These kids are awkward – pre-teen, after all – but that very awkwardness lends depth and a certain subtlety to the characters and makes them very real. This will be the one and only time you read me say anything good about Wynona Ryder’s acting ability; she is so bad an actress that that deficiency makes her absolutely perfect for the part of the mother of one of the pre-teen boys that is the catalyst in story. I know. I know. But believe me, she’s so bad she’s good in this one particular role. David Harbour (now a secret crush for yours truly) plays the Sheriff in Hawkins and he walks a very fine line between stereotype and epitome; common man with foibles and emotional baggage. One of all the children, Millie Bobbie Brown, stands head and shoulders above the rest of the kids and she is a gold mine for this series. Where they found her, I have no idea but keep an eye on her career; she’ll accomplish a great body of work if her acting abilities mature along with her age. She makes Stranger Things.
Now comes the hard part. How do I share with you why you should watch the series (without ‘spoiler alerts’?). I commend the Duffer Brothers – they have created a ‘something’ we’ve never seen before. There is no zombie lore or vampire lore to apply to the something. It’s original and it’s horrifying. No ghost history which can be applied here. It’s new – a new horror. Those of us familiar with 1950s horror movies that pointed to the government as the bad guys were prepared to laugh this off and drop IQ points from the series but those Duffer boys tweaked that old chestnut.
There is a good deal of humor in the series, a lot of laughing at ourselves as we relive our adolescence through the kids who live in Hawkins. There’s a lot of ‘I remember when …’ moments. The horror stuff they do really well, considering this is not some blockbuster Hollywood movie; small can be – and is – effective. Atmosphere – they are able to create a creeping unease as the story unfolds and sometimes we feel the mother’s desperation in a very intimate way.
I’ll bet that if you give season one a try, you’ll be up for and wanting the rest of the seasons. Have I ever steered you wrong? Why not take a shot and see just how Stranger Things can be.