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‘Stranger Things’ shocks, scintillates

Reproduced by permission of netflix

Reproduced by permission of netflix

Grace Knotts, Editor-in-chief

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The screen of my laptop flashes with the image of a man sprinting through a hallway lit with fluorescent lights. A cry echoes through the speakers, making my heart beat faster as my thoughts run a mile a minute trying to figure out what is going on.

“What is he running from? Why is he the only person there?”

He frantically pushes the button for the elevator once he reaches the end of the hall, checking behind him for whatever was chasing him. Finally, thinking he’s safe in the enclosed space, he takes a minute to breathe. But a demonic gurgling sound from above forces him to look up in utter fear.

Then there’s a scream – did that come from my computer, or me?

When I first heard about “Stranger Things,” I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. A show about a bunch of 12-year-olds running around, stealing Eggos and fighting bullies in 1983 Hawkins, Ind.? I could have watched something on Cartoon Network if that’s what I wanted.

But when I viewed the first episode, my mind was blown.

The first episode includes a game of Dungeons and Dragons, foreshadowing every major event in the show and giving each character their roles. They cope with the incomprehensible situation they are put into with it.

Will Byers could have cast a protection spell on himself instead of throwing a fireball at the monster to deter it from the others. This parallels his real-life capture—in other words, he defended his friends before himself.

Mike Wheeler becomes an actual “Dungeon Master,” leading the group in their search for Byers.

Eleven, although skewed in her reasoning, calls herself the “Monster.”

The most intense moment was when Joyce Byers, played by Winona Ryder, supernaturally communicated with her missing son using Christmas lights, of all things. Her sharpness due to borderline insanity had me on edge.

Writing an alphabetical character under each light was ingenious, even if it did resemble a twisted version of an Ouija board that one of Santa’s elves tried to spruce up. I was impatiently keeping along with what Will was spelling out by turning on lights. My breath hitched in my throat as soon as he lit the bulb for the “N” in “RUN.”

I ended up watching all eight episodes in one sitting—a true feat considering school had already started and I was buried in mounds of homework.

My justifications? I totally needed an eight-hour break and I wanted to enjoy the show in its entirety without forgetting a single detail between episodes.

The show is packed full of striking conflict. Instead of a typical tale of a 16-year-old’s journey of self-discovery by struggling against an enemy, it vaults children into the worst situation possible.

Between the disappearance of their friend Will, the Demogorgon (a monster from the “Upside-down” with a thirst for blood), secret government experimentation and a socially inept girl with deadly telekinetic powers, it’s surprising that none of these kids ended up in therapy by the end of the season.

“Stranger Things” is a must-watch for anyone who wants to feel nostalgic – “Star Wars” references, “E.T.”-era bicycles and classic rock songs make the show reminiscent of 1983.

But the clothes were what really made me feel like I had been dropped off in a time when John Bender from “The Breakfast Club” was throwing his fist in the air.

It was like I was watching a show that made costumes out of my mother’s wardrobe.

The five main characters are expertly portrayed by their respective actors. They take interpersonal relationships to the next level, even if they are between children. Values of trust, friendship, love, and camaraderie make up a portion of the web of interactions in the show, as do their harmful reversals.

Every episode left me waiting for the little “play next” pop-up in the lower left hand corner of my screen so I could quicken the start of the next one. Don’t even get me started on that last episode.

With everything the first season accomplished in just eight hour-long episodes, I eagerly await the new season coming next year, which Netflix announced Aug. 31.

Stars: 5/5

See staff writer Audrey Houghton’s review on “Stranger Things” for a different perspective.

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