Stranger Things 2016 Quick Review

Stranger Things 2016 Quick Review

Stranger Things 2016 Quick Review

Stranger Things Poster | Bad Horror Moves

Stranger Things is a Netflix original series centering around a middle school boy who goes missing on his way home after seeing something monstrous and sinister up head of on the road. There’s young mysterious girl on the run and a government agency conducting some very dark experiments. This is all takes place in a small town in Indiana back in 1983.

I only heard about Netflix’s Stranger Things a few weeks ago. It was released on July 15th according to the poster and the first season contains 8 episodes. From the moment I heard about this I was interested in it. However, I put off seeing it because I just don’t like soap opera’s and any TV show that doesn’t end it’s story in one or two episodes is a soap opera. If I am going to watch a soap opera, it really has to interest me. Further more, if I am actually going to like a soap opera, it better wrap itself up by season’s end. Thankfully, Stranger Things, did all of that. There were a few things it did that I didn’t like but nothing to the point of frustration. Just minor things I will discus later.

As the story goes, it’s in many very similar to the book I’ve written. Small town, strange things happening, a cop trying to figure out what’s going on, a group of friends, a mysterious lab. A mysterious girl. Thankfully, aside from that, the stories are completely different. And, thankfully, should I ever be able to afford an editor for my book and it gets made into an series, my book is registered so I can prove that I didn’t copy anything from Stranger Things.

Now that I have got that out of the way. Almost everything about season 1 of Stranger Things is great. The acting is phenomenal. The special effects, are great most of the time. A couple of CGI monster issues once or twice but the rest of it was simply spectacular looking. The writing was really good. There were a few times some characters did some really stupid things but I never found what they did to be so significantly stupid that it made want to root against them. And, if you’re on of my 2.5 readers you know once a character does something so stupid, I start rooting for the bad guy. Thankfully, there’s none of that in Stranger Things.

Talking about the acting, the stand out role to me is that of the character Eleven played so perfectly by Milli Brown. I couldn’t take my eyes off this kid. I don’t think she says more than 20 words in the entire first season and yet, her facial expression are so enthralling, so hypnotic. She can go from scared and helpless to “I’m about to fuck you up.” in a heartbeat. I mean I’m a grown a ass man I do not ever want to be on the receiving end of one of her glares. Damn! She reminded so much of a young Natalie Portman in The Professional. She has that same type of innocence and intensity. There’s no way she’s not going to be every bit as successful as Portman. Milli Brown is amazing.

Also it was good to see Winona Ryder again. I have loved her since Heather’s. I thought she was also excellent in this. She played being, timid and strong with such believability. There comes a time when no believes her character. I wanted to be mad. I hate it when one of our hero’s is telling the truth and no one believes them. But, under the circumstances, how could anyone. She was saying some crazy things, she was acting crazy. So well played. I could see the people around her wanting to believe her but at the same time, just knowing she’s a grieving mom and needs help. The denial of others never became so frustrating that it takes you out of the story. And, I think that has a lot to do with Winona’s acting skills. I felt for her character every second she was on the screen.

Stranger Things Kids | Bad Horror Movies

Also the group of middle school kids, they were amazing. I knew kids like that. I was probably like that. Never was a D&D player but mad props for their taste in movie posters and choices in horror movies. Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin and Gaten Matarazzo as the the missing boy’s best friends were so good. They had a good vibe together and reminiscent of great movies like Goonies or Explorers but with a Stephen King kinda feel to it.

Then there was the feel of the 80’s. They managed to make it actually feel like the 80’s without going over the top in pop culture references and clothing. They kept it all confined into 1983 or prior for the most part and as someone that grew up in the 1980’s I would have noticed any huge inaccurate. The only thing that really stood out as an error was the choice of music they used to end episode two. Hazy Shade of Winter by the Bengals wasn’t released until 1985. But, in the series defense, the music was playing over the end credits, it wasn’t part of the story. Still it was enough to make me think, “Wait, that song wasn’t even out yet.”

Also, the score to Stranger Things. Brilliant! Once again Stranger Things managed to capture the feel and the sound of the 80’s. That low synth sound took me right into every early 80’s movie and TV show when it blended with the screen title, Stranger Things, and it’s design of glowing read boldface. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought that I was watching an early 80’s suspense or horror thriller like The Thing or Cujo or Christine.

I guess the only things I didn’t like about it was that at times I felt like it ran a little slow. But, it was never not interesting. I planned on watching the first episode yesterday just to see if I liked it. Four episodes later I turned it off to get some sleep. I tossed and turned. Then started watching the next episode on my tablet while in bed. After about 13 minutes into the fifth episode I said, “Screw it!” and got up and spent the rest of the night watching the final four episodes.

Then there was the older teen’s story-lines. Natalia Dyer played Nancy Wheeler, the older sister of Mike Wheeler, one of the missing kids best friends. Charlie Heaton played Jonathan Byers, the older brother of the missing kid gone missing, Will Byers. It would have been far more enjoyable seeing what these two would have done if they only could have come together sooner. More adventures, more monster hunting. Instead too much time is wasted on the love the triangle. Natalia’s badassery was simply wasted on the triangle story-line.

Stranger Things Teens | bad Horror Movies

The love triangle was just more of a distraction then an interesting part of the story. I will say that the “triangle” had a nice twist to it concerning the stereo-typical douchebag boyfriend but all that took away from the adventures that Natalia Dyer’s character could have had with Charlie Heaton’s character. This is a real shame because it slowed the pace down. I’m not saying the triangle didn’t need to be there. I’m just saying too much time was devoted to it.

If you were around in the 80’s I think the only thing that will disappoint you is that Stranger Things almost felt at times there wasn’t enough 80’s stuff in it. But, that’s also what made it so great. It wasn’t over done. It wasn’t filled with a ton of references that only 80’s kids would get. But, I did love the shout out Dan O’Bannon for example, just a small character named after real writer and sometimes director of such greats as Alien (writer) and The Return of the Living Dead (director). I am sure there were more shout outs that I didn’t catch because I was so into the story.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this. It’s fun, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at the same time it’s no joke. There are some top notch performances here. A more than descent story, good music, creepy monster and some really beautifully shot scenes. It’s well worth your time.









Do Supernatural Horror Movies Scare Atheists?

Do Supernatural Horror Movies Scare Atheists?

Do Supernatural Horror Movies Scare Atheists?

While surfing the net looking for something new in the world of horror I found this article on the Huffington Post “Do Atheists Get Scared During Supernatural Horror Movies?” by Robert Frost.  My first thought was, what kinda of idiot would actually stop and wonder that?  What level of moronic reason ran through a person’s head that made them ask such a stupid question.  The author of the article, Robert Frost didn’t come up with the question.  He just chose to answer it.  It was asked by someone on “Quora” who obviously has the IQ of a rock.

I started this rant Thursday night.  I have written and re-written it several times.  Changed a word, a phrase, deleted and added paragraphs all in an attempt not to turn this into a passive aggressive slam at religious people. I don’t think that all religious people are stupid and shallow.  I also don’t think that all atheists are full of depth and knowledge.  Yet, when it comes to the question at hand, I can only see this as being asked by a religious person.  However, perhaps, it was asked by an atheist who was looking for his or her reasoning why?  I don’t really see that but it’s possible.  So I want to make it clear that at the core of this rant, I am angry at stupid people not religious people.  So my rant here is an attempt to point out the stupidity of the question as well as answer it, just in case someone should come across this article and not have at least the philosophical depth that nature gave to puddles.

An atheist can be scared by and enjoy a supernatural themed piece of work for two simple reasons.  The first being what is called the Suspension of Disbelief.  It is a term that has been around since the early 1800’s when the philosopher and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge first coined the phrase.  He felt that if the writer could add “human interest and a semblance of truth” to the story, no matter how over the top it was, the reader could believe it long enough to enjoy the story.  It has since changed somewhat nowadays to refer to the audiences ability to suspend their belief in reality long enough to enjoy the book, the movie, the TV show and so on.

I believe Steven Spielberg inadvertently gave the best description of what this means when he was talking to Peter Benchley.  Benchley didn’t agree with the ending Spielberg had in mind for Jaws.  He thought there was no way an audience would buy it.  Then Spielberg responded with, and I am paraphrasing only because I don’t have time to find the actual quote. “If I can grab the audience for the first two hours, I can do anything I want with the last three minutes.

What Steven Spielberg said was the absolute truth.  It doesn’t matter what a person believes or does not believe.  If the makers of the film do their job right, no matter how fantastical the story, the audience will ignore their own beliefs and accept those of the story being told to them.  Some will do it just long enough to enjoy the film.  Other people will believe what the film told them forever.

Jaws 1975 Artwork

How many of us had no fear of swimming in the ocean before Jaws was released and all these years later we can’t even step into a lake or go into a pool at night with no lights on and not think somewhere in the back of our minds that a shark is going to get us.  We now it’s not going to really happen but there’s always that part, way back in our consciousness, that tells us to be afraid.  For those not old enough to remember when Jaws came out, I was 5 years old and lived on Okinawa at the time.  I was too young to see the movie.  But, the moment that movie came out, I was afraid to go into the water.  I still am afraid but I do go out in the water though there is always a part of me that knows when I step into the water that I am not alone.

In my experience the effect Jaws had on society far surpasses it’s audience.  I have never been to the beach, in the water and not had someone in the group bring up jaws or a shark of some kind.   No one cared or thought about sharks when they went to the beach before Jaws, at least not to the scale they do today.  I saw the change in my friends when I was kid.  We went to the beach all the time before Jaws was released, not so much after. That fear of sharks stems from the movie.  People today who haven’t seen the movie fear sharks because of all that has followed since.

Another great example is the movie Psycho.  That shower scene was so powerful there are people to this day won’t take a shower.  That always lock the bathroom door, even when home alone, with all the main doors locked and secured.

These two films are a perfect example of what the “suspension of disbelief” and having a good imagination can do.  I can understanding not understanding the theory behind a “Suspension of Disbelief”.  But, to not understand the concept shows a staggering lack of intellectual ability.  This is just something you should understand.  At least anyone who is smarter than a hockey puck should naturally understand it.  How anyone could question how another person could not like a work of fantasy is so stupid, it’s offensive.

I just am at a loss for how ridiculous of a question it is.  Has this person ever seen Superman?  How can he or she watch a movie like that and believe an alien baby survived travel from another galaxy, that it only took a matter of days, weeks or months and that upon arriving on Earth now has superpowers because our sun is yellow and his was red.  This allows him to defy gravity?  Yes I know Superman originally couldn’t fly, he could only leap really far but they soon realized how idiotic Superman look would leaping over shit like a frog or Kangaroo.

Can a religious person like Star Wars or Harry Potter?  Both deal with sorcery and magic. Of course they can.  What I find fascinating about the primary question of this rant is that I have never met another atheist who didn’t like supernatural horror movies or monster movies because they knew they were fake.  They may have not liked the movies because they were written poorly, the acting was bad or some other real world reason.  But, they didn’t not like the film because they believed ghosts or gods are not real.  And yet, I have met Christians that wouldn’t let their children watch Harry Potter because it has to do with witches and sorcery.   How completely shallow and stupid is that?

Can an FBI Agent or a cop like a movie like The Godfather?  Can a vegetarian like a movie if the main character eats a hamburger?  The ridiculousness of the question.  It’s hard to get past that level of stupidity.

Ghost stories are among my favorite type of horror movies.  I love a good or bad ghost story most of the time.  I can do this because I am not a complete idiot.  The ability to suspend my logical beliefs in order to appreciate the fantasy I am being sold is easy.  It’s easy because sometimes I have a healthy imagination, sometimes the story is so good I can suspend my beliefs and sometimes it’s both.

What it all comes down to is that if the story is done well, you go with it no matter what your beliefs are.  It doesn’t matter if you are religious or not. A good story can take you anywhere.  A great story can make you believe, at least for a moment, that anything is possible. That is, unless you’re a complete idiot.