Film | Wide Angle

'Stranger Things' happened in the 1980s

by Giovanni Fazio

The streaming wars continue, and one advantage Netflix has over its rivals is that it releases its original content in Japan without much annoying time lag. That’s true of their new paranormal series “Stranger Things,” which came out in the dog days of summer but is still building buzz.

“Stranger Things” plays like a spot-the-reference homage to the early 1980s, a mish-mash of Stephen King stories, John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg movies, and “Dungeons & Dragons” games. Adding to the vibe are ’80s-vintage actors Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine, and an ace soundtrack by members of Austin synth-band Survive, which sounds like “Risky Business”-era Tangerine Dream.

Set in small-town Hawkins, Indiana — with the spookiest forests this side of Twin Peaks — “Stranger Things” follows the mysterious disappearance of a local boy named Will (Noah Schnapp), and the hunt to find him by his mom (Ryder), the town’s alcoholic sheriff (David Harbour) and his resourceful geek friends on their BMX bike (“E.T.” flashbacks abound). Instead of Will they find a near-mute, cold-eyed girl named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) who appears to be some sort of laboratory escapee.

Unlike the deep-retro of “Mad Men,” which put the ’60s in an entirely new light, “Stranger Days” ’80s nostalgia is strictly superficial. But then again, so was the decade.

“Stranger Things” is currently available on NetFlix Japan: www.netflix.com/jp/title/80057281.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5