Throughout the millions of words I have written on this page over the last ten years, it should come as no surprise to you guys that I love Stephen King. There’s something about his work that perfectly captures horror without losing track of his characters. And sure, there’s some books I haven’t finished which I should have (Needful Things, the first part of The Dark Tower), I finished some that I really shouldn’t have (The Tommyknockers, Cujo), and he almost never quite nails the ending (The Stand, 11/22/63) – but there’s something that causes me to come back time and again.
Now, I could write the same paragraph about Steven Spielberg, about E.T., Gremlins and Jurassic Park, an how these movies defined my childhood, about how Spielberg created a brilliant synergy between interesting characters and science-fiction through the use of wonder. About the Spielberg face, and so on. And I did write exactly that.
If you’ve read these two paragraphs and haven’t fallen asleep, Netflix’s Stranger Things might just be the thing for you. It’s the perfect brain child of King and Spielberg: A sci-fi horror show (light on the horror, thankfully) set in 1983, about three kids searching for their missing friend and discovering a whole lot of nasty stuff on the way. Both visually and storywise, it’s a treat, heavily paying homage to the eighties. You’ll recognize shots from old eighties classics, and some of the story beats feel like someone fired up the King playlist on an old grimy jukebox.
Let there be no doubt, though: Stranger Things is more than a wink and a nudge, or a weird inside joke for nerds like me. It’s a touching story about friendship, motherly love and growing up, and accessible to a broader audience than this review might imply. Give it a try – I was hooked within minutes.