‘Stranger’ Needs a Little Polish, a Bit More Background and a Lot Less CGI

Dominic Repp, Staff Reporter

photo by Dominic Repp
Trinity teacher and “Stranger Things” fan Mr. Rob Seng

The ’80s are often described like a magical place and time on this earth, especially in America. As disco declined and newer waves of dance music emerged, children roamed freely on their bikes in their neighborhoods, and, of course, shows such as “​The A-Team” and ​”Knight Rider” ​ paved the way for modern entertainment. ​

“Stranger Things” ​ is the Duffer brothers’ attempt at recreating that image, but in horror and mystery.  The show is entertaining, but there are edges that need polishing.

The show starts out in a small town in Indiana in 1983. Four children — Dustin, Will, Mike and Lucas — are playing a board game. Immediately, one of the children  blurts out a cuss word, so the audience knows this show won’t be Hollywood trying to make these kids innocent. Soon Will (Noah Schnapp) has to go home to his single mother, Joyce Byers (played by award-winning Winona Ryder), and older brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton).  

I don’t know if the show may have been rushed, but the CGI takes away from that ’80s horror because it’s not physical makeup. The constant suspense of what the monster looked like was scarier than the actual reveal.

— Trinity teacher Mr. Rob Seng

As Will is riding his bike home in the total darkness alone, he hears a noise to his left on the road. He investigates it and doesn’t come back, leaving his bike behind.

Of course, these aren’t the only five characters we see in the show. There’s Eleven or Elle (Millie Bobby Brown), who’s a lost child that escaped from a lab. She was tortured, but Netflix goes a bit overboard on the flashback memories with her. I caught myself zoning out once those came on the screen.

Eleven does play a key role in the show because she has telekinetic powers. The show doesn’t explain how she actually came to have these, and it doesn’t show any sign of her parents or if she has siblings. She does, however, have an evil grandfather. But then again, we don’t know if that’s her real grandfather or not.

Trinity film studies teacher Mr. Chad Waggoner says she is his favorite character. Mr. Rob Seng, who moderates the Film Club at Trinity, agrees.

The three remaining children come across Elle by finding her in the woods. They take her to Mike’s house, where she displays her powers for them.

This is Waggoner’s favorite scene. He said, “I thought the part where she (Eleven) was flying the Millennium Falcon toy around the basement was really cool.”

This is also the scene where they call Eleven “Elle” because Eleven isn’t a name. The rest of the characters include David Harbour as Jim Hopper, ​Joe Keery​ as Steve Harrington, Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, Cara Buono as Karen Wheeler, and Matthew Modine as Martin Brenner. These same characters have been guaranteed a spot in the second season as well.

The show is a little unpolished because of the CGI monster. Seng agrees. He said, “I don’t know if the show may have been rushed, but the CGI takes away from that ’80s horror because it’s not physical makeup. The constant suspense of what the monster looked like was scarier than the actual reveal.”

It’s a valid point to make because the monster was almost cartoonish. The show also pays tribute to the theme it is presenting, ’80s horror and mystery, through it’s opening title in each episode.

Seng said, “Growing up on John Carpenter — he’s from Bowling Green — and in the ’80s to ’90s he was known for doing his own synthesizer scores, I was a huge fan of his.  So as soon as I heard the opening credits roll, I immediately had a warm spot for the show. I just knew they were going to hit their marks pretty well on the whole ’80s idea. Even the old VHS look they added to the letters was spot on.”

The show is fast paced and edgy, but I think it is a bit rushed. We didn’t get to see the development of characters, nor more of their backgrounds. I would’ve liked to have met Dustin’s parents, or have seen more of Steve’s past. I think this could’ve explained a lot about why the characters act the way they do.

Of course, I enjoy the show, just like Waggoner and Seng, and I’m looking forward to next season explaining more.