With a glossary of references, The Duffer brothers have redefined the sci-fi horror genre. I just took a quiz to find out which Stranger Things character I am — it turns out I’m the monster or better known as the Demogorgon. Run, now, for no more spoilers. Netflix’s new original series created by the Duffer brothers is reference-packed; introducing younger viewers to a whole new world that their parents are reminiscing about on VCR.
Stranger Things is the sci-fi horror version of Finding Nemo. Dungeons and Dragons obsessed teenagers-to-be are chasing their friend Will Byers’ last steps, which happens to be near a government facility; everything strange always starts with the government — whether 9/11 or Area 51. On their quest to find Byers, they find a bald-headed mute girl in the rain to help them.
The 80s in film: neon glow title trims like the one from Richard Donner’s Superman accompanied by transparent bold block letters. Stranger Things is no different with it’s Mulholland Drive-like instrumental playing over Winona Ryder’s name in neon red. To pitch the concept of Stranger Things, the Duffer brothers put together a mock-trailer using clips from more than 25 of era-defining films from E.T. to The Fog.
The tale of teenagers snooping is a famous one: Scooby Doo, Stand by Me and Super 8. It is still relevant in the lives of teenagers today, finding things they shouldn’t, but in the comfort of their own home by scrolling through the ‘following’ tab to find out that their boyfriend/girlfriend has commented a heart on an ex’s photo. “We auditioned 906 boys and 307 girls,” revealed the Duffer brothers in a blog-post on Entertainment Weekly.
A hybrid of Magneto’s powers and LUH 3417’s look from THX 1138 — Eleven, is the ultimate tom-boy next door experiment; the character cues all the right references in her traumatic flashbacks; paying homage to scenes from: D.A.R.Y.L., Flight of the Navigator and Firestarter — the attached EEG cap with a bundle of white plastic wires.
Tell a girl she will look like Charlize Theron in Mad Max with a buzz-cut, she will never say no; Millie Bobby Brown in an interview with Indie Wire revealed that they, “did this sort of split-screen of her and me, and the resemblance was amazing! I thought, ‘Wow, that’s such an amazing way to put it, you know?’ It was the best decision I’ve ever, ever made.” I have to admit, that when I first saw Eleven, I thought of that i-D cover with Lina Hoss, but then I also thought about Justin Bieber’s recent buzz-cut and also the infamous Britney-buzz.
Another fashion icon in Indiana is Barb, she embodies the current Gucci girl with her red Elizabeth Siddal hair, Kam Dhillon glasses and soft wallpaper coloured blouses. Rest in peace, Barb
The unfriendly family sci-fi horror series is the new ‘coming together’ for people to watch things together again. It’s a bit like the The Simpsons Halloween episodes mixed with Coraline. The Netflix original is a fight between good and bad, this reality vs the other; the technique of every fairy-tale: Shrek, Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia.
And if you look closer, the series does not just focus on CGI and some flashing lights, it deals with issues of the 80s: being a single mother, the minority (Lucas being the only black character and family in the neighbourhood) and homophobia. Netflix as a company and brand has produced original series which sets them apart from your normal cable TV; it has given black, Hispanic and Oriental actors a platform in shows such as Orange is the new Black and Marco Polo.