*This review may contain minor spoilers*
This is a solid show. Great acting, special effects and pacing make the eight episodes fly by. This series really seemed to come out of nowhere. It was released over the summer, and the hype has continued to grow. I had no idea what to expect going in. I saw no trailers and only knew that the show was set in the eighties.
Not only is the show set in the eighties, but it is heavily inspired to sci-fi and horror of that era. Stephen King and Steven Spielberg are particularly paid homage. “E.T.”, “It,” and “Carrie” seem to be the major source of the story, and even the show’s logo mimics the font on old King novels. But there are also modern elements, such as the Silent Hill video game series.
The plot itself isn’t really all that great. It can be too similar to the works that it’s inspired by. As a fan of the fiction that is represented here, things get too obvious at times as the show progresses. However, the story is well-paced, and there is little filler. The story is character driven, and this is where it shine. The veteran actors are solid…although Winona Ryder can be overdo the panicked mother act on occasion. It’s the child actors that steal the show, not so much emotional performances, but more nuanced interaction between them. You feel like you’re watching real kids that have spent years together. When the dramatic moments do hit, they are so much more effective because we care about the characters.
The horror elements work. There’s just enough tension to keep you at the edge of your seat, but never overwhelming you. The creature remains in the shadows early on, but looks great once it’s revealed. The effects here, and throughout the show in general, look believable.
The story is wrapped up well in the end, but the final act raises quite a few major questions. Hopefully, they will be answered in season two.
**** out of *****