These days Netflix are throwing out the original TV series', and even movies, on a regular basis, but it's been a few months now since we've had a new show we could really sink our teeth into. Enter stage left, Stranger Things, the hotly anticipated supernatural drama that arrived on the streaming service on Friday starring the queen of the nineties herself, Winona Ryder.
Trust us, from the moment you press play on this one, you will be hooked in, and you may need to cancel all plans for the immediate future.
Here's why Stranger Things is one of the best show's on Netflix right now, and why you need to get watching the show that was initially pitched as "E.T with John Carpenter tunes".
1. Winona Ryder
It's been a while since we've seen Winona in anything worth talking about. She's appeared in the odd TV show or movie in the noughties including Black Swan and Show Me A Hero, but let's face it, she never really did seem to recover professionally from that whole shoplifting scandal did she? Until now that is, with many heralding this as a comeback role for the iconic star. Ryder plays Joyce Beyers, the mother to a young boy who goes missing in small town America in the early 1980s and despite the facts, she is convinced her son is still alive and trying to communicate with her via lights. Yeah, this is as weird as it sounds but Winona pulls off the frantic mother of a missing child with what showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer describe as her essential "Winona-ness".
Matt said; "She has a very intense energy about her, Winona does, a wiry unpredictability, a sort of anxiousness that we thought we’d really lean into."
For a series that thrives so much on nostalgia, Winona is the perfect choice to lead us back down the rabbit hole into the bizarre eighties horror stories that the Duffer brothers so clearly grew up on. That said, as great as Winona is, there's no denying she was upstaged by what turned out to be an incredibly impressive younger cast.
2. The kids
The whole narrative of Stranger Things rests firmly on the shoulders of child actors, and they carry the burden well. Their entire dynamic is undoubtedly inspired by the likes of The Goonies and E.T, the latter even more so when Eleven shows up. Stranger Things marks a breakout performance for 12-year-old Millie Brown, who stars as the mysterious Eleven, a young girl who seems to appear out of nowhere in the small town in the aftermath of Will's sudden disappearance. The young actress made the challenging role her own, even shaving her head for the part, and managed to bring a subtle vulnerability to a character who doesn't really have a whole load of dialogue to work with. That's not to take away from her young co-stars too, with Finn Wolfhard (Mike) Gaten Mattarazzo (Dustin) and Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) all making what could have been one dimensional characters their own, although kudos there must also go to the writing of the Duffer brothers.
3. The music
The music! Honestly, the soundtrack is reason alone to watch. Featuring songs from the likes of The Clash, New Order, Television, David Bowie, The Smyths and Joy Division, all slipped in to the story at just the right time and perfectly complimenting whatever was going down. The synthy score and John Carpenter-esque theme song comes courtesy of Texas duo Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein (also known as Survive), which you can hear the full version of below;
4. Matthew Modine
Matthew Modine is the ultimate 'what do I know him from?' actor, but has an impressive body of work that includes the likes of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, The Dark Knight Rises, and Sullivan Groff in Weeds. He stars as the manipulative Dr. Martin Brenner in Stranger Things, in a role that was essentially written for him by Matt and Ross Duffer. While his character doesn't really dominate proceedings until later in the series, and like Millie Brown's Eleven, he has very little dialogue, his mere presence alone serves as the human face to the much darker forces at play.
5. The nostalgia
More than ever, there's a fascination with all things eighties and nineties related. The nostalgia factor is high throughout Stranger Things and children of the eighties will absolutely lap up the countless references to movies and pop culture of the time (Dungeons and Dragons anyone?). Billed as "a love letter to the ubiquitous cult classics of the 80s", Stranger Things has successfully managed to pay homage to the Stephen King era of supernatural flicks and still come out with something new and compelling to watch. We'll forever love the things we loved as children it seems, and dammit, if Stranger Things proves anything it's that we were kids with excellent taste.
Total nitpicking here, but at times, there may be just a little too much backstory thrown in, and there is the odd plot hole that we won't spoil for you by pointing out, but nevertheless are there. It spirals a little too fast into the utterly bizarre, but it doesn't take you long to adjust. Also if you didn't spend your childhood totally entranced by the work of Stephen King, Spielberg and John Carpenter, you may not get all the hype about this show, but nevertheless you should still give it a go - Stranger Things knows exactly how to appeal to the kid in all of us.