Stranger Things (2016) - Season 1 SPOILER-FREE Review

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Created by: The Duffer Brothers

Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Matthew Modine

Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) is a kid who vanishes one day and his mother (Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers), a police chief (David Harbour as Jim Hopper) and his friends start looking for him, while some strange things happen along the way.

I'm from the mid-90s, but that doesn't take away my wonder when seeing 80s films. This show is a tribute to Steven Spielberg's movies and to Stephen King's books, by filming it in a much more unusual style than we're used to nowadays. The tone of this show clearly feels like a Steven Spielberg's movie with a Stephen King's script, it's that great. Even the logo has a similar font to King's novels, so it's clear that the directors love this decade.

Now, as much as a tribute is well done in terms of filming, the show needs to have a strong story ... And it does, it's intriguing and it's full of great performances, so let me start from there: Winona Ryder gives a really great performance as the mother of her missing child, I don't think she ever goes over the top and she can really show how hard it is to lose a son. Plus, she's seeing things no one else is seeing and she goes crazy trying to prove she's right, so I obviously feel for her and I want her to succeed ... I want that moment where she goes "See? I told you so!" because I care about her. David Harbour is amazing, he's the character that has the greatest evolution throughout the show. He starts by not being really concerned about Will and then he enters this spiral of emotions when he becomes to discover that the government might have something to do with it. His obsession with this case hooked me instantly.

Moving on to the youngsters: the 3 kids searching for their friend are the main source of joy in this show. They're super likable, so funny and the writing for them is adequate, which usually is the problem when casting child actors. Adults write the script and they tend to make them talk less like a kid would, but in this show they actually talk like are supposed to. Sometimes they literally say, "Who cares?" or "Yeah, whatever" and the conversation ends there because ... They're kids, they don't care! Jonathan Byers is Will's older brother, he's played by Charlie Heaton and he did a fantastic work with this reserved character. Jonathan is the lonely guy and he often finds himself in the need to explain some of his actions, like his mother has to.

I finally get where I wanted to. This is, by far, the Holy Grail of this show: Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven. Both the character and the actress are pure perfection! Eleven is a girl that appears after Will's departure, she rarely talks and, through flashbacks, we are told her backstory and how troubled her past is. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll not mention why this character is so special, but she's the most intriguing and mysterious of this show. Millie Bobby Brown deserves a goddamn Emmy for this, I've never, EVER, seen a young performance this great! I can't recall one scene where I wasn't completely hooked on what she was doing, she is fantastic, I have no words to describe her amazing performance ...

Do I have any cons for this first season? One. And it's probably more personal than ever, so for most of you, this season will be flawless. For me, this tribute became, at some moments, a copy ...  There are scenes that I clearly went "Oh, that's from E.T." and that kept happening again and again. It started to bother me a little and I don't even know Spielberg's movies or King's scripts that well. It's not a directing error, it's not a plot detail, it's just a personal thing that nagged me a little.

Still, this is the best surprise I could receive this year in regard to TV shows! It's fascinating, it hooked me instantly and I can't wait for the next season, where I'm sure they will bring new stuff that my stupid brain will not be bothered with.