Screen sequels have a long line of casualties: Jaws lost its bite, Spiderman it’s thread and lest said the better on the reloading of Matrix… what were they smoking? Perhaps the same shit that burnt down The Strokes’ ‘Room on Fire’.
Ok, so Stranger Things is neither a cult film nor a skinny-jean wearing indie band. Yet the levels of expectation levelled at 2016s stand out hit for Netflix is certainly comparable. So, what of the Duffer Brothers sequel then? Netflix have pushed more dollars behind it, sure, and, full disclosure, I am a big fan. I get chills at the opening music, oversized red typed font and am warned “don’t start without me” by my partner who I’m positive checks the search history to see if I ‘cheated’.
Season two is good. No spoilers, that’s just not fair. Season two is, arguably, darker than season one but there is plenty of light-hearted references for fans of its referenced genres to feast on. The formula of eighties pop with a nostalgic dollop of ‘Stand by Me’, ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ returns and why change it? Given the added financing by Netflix we see more of the characters themselves and other towns too – places exist beyond Hawkins and I do not mean the Upside Down.
As new characters appear -a few bum notes – the stoic Will remains consistently troubled throughout with battles of PTSD although seemingly just about to manage. The early episodes focus on the changing relationships within this group of friends: the past year’s trauma, the loss of a best friend and stigmatisation within school and in a small town.
Memories and trauma are recurring themes in season two and how the group react to each new challenge and danger lurking on every corner. With the Demogorgon gone, but the Upside Down well and alive, our heroes must contest a new shadow demon and this one leaves the town of Hawkins pulled into all sorts of madness.
By Andrew Walker