STRANGER THINGS – Episode 1 “The Vanishing of Will Byers”

By | July 30, 2016

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As I get older, my 80s nostalgia grows more, and more. I’ll admit that my memory of some of things that I though were cool back then (like slap bracelets) don’t hold up over time, but some things do. STRANGER THINGS absolutely nailed what it was like to grow up in the 80s and what was cool then, and is still cool now.

You can tell that the Duffer Brothers, a pair of twins who wrote and directed most of STRANGER THINGS, have a deep connection to 80s filmmaking. The opening scene in this episode had a very Alien vibe to it mixed with the lightheartedness of The Goonies. It felt I was actually watching a movie made in the 80s the way it was written, directed, and produced.

In this episode it’s revealed that something went wrong at a government facility in a small, suburban town. Unbeknownst to those that live nearby, they go about their normal day. If you were a middle school-aged, geek in the 80s nothing was more normal than playing Dungeon & Dragons with your friends in a wood paneled basement, and that is how we’re introduced to the protagonists, who are:

Will (played by Noah Schnapps II) – a conservative slightly shy kind of kid that loves comics.

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Mike (played by Finn Wolfhard) – an intense, odd looking kid that let’s his emotions show.

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Lucas (played by Caleb McLaughlin) – the rational thinking one of the group.

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Dustin (played by Gaten Matarazzo) – the Chunk from Goonies of the group.

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On the way home from Mike’s house, Will ends up going missing. From what is shown it looks like “something” was chasing Will and abducted him from his home. The “something” is never clearly shown, but, to me, it didn’t look to be human. The episode then cuts to the opening credits.

The opening credits are full-blown out of the 80s. The music and the way the letters come together to form the shows title is down right sickly-looking. If you watch closely you’ll see that there are white specks and lines that appear while the opening credits roll giving you that feel that you’re watching a used VHS – it’s subtle but defiantly there. It’s the little things like that peppered throughout the show that add depth to it. Checkout the opening credits below:

After the opening credits end, it’s the next day and Will’s mom (Wynona Rider) and brother (Charlie Heaton) wake up to Will not being home. Additionally, Will’s friends notice that he’s not at school. Will’s mom seeks assistance from the local Sheriff (David Harbour), who has a drinking problem, to find her son. The Sheriff doesn’t seem too concerned and more worried about drinking his morning coffee before it gets cold than solving of missing child case.

As the Sheriff, and his less than qualified deputies (think Twin Peaks), try to piece together Will’s whereabouts from the day before, a young girl about the age of Will walks out of the woods. She’s wearing a tattered hospital gown and looks spacey. The girl is befriended by a local restaurant owner who thinks he called CYS to report her discovery, but in fact, his call was intercepted by the government. The government comes guns blazing for the girl who ends up running into Will’s friends while they are out looking for their lost friend.

The episode ends with Will’s voice (crackled and distorted) coming through the house phone that’s answered by Will’s mom. Will’s mom is convinced that her son is still alive.

Consume Review Repeat gives STRANGER THINGS Episode 1…drum roll…10 out of 10 demogorgons.

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