Friday, July 29, 2016

Things about Stranger Things

A Netflix original series has popped up and swiped its arm across the table in a gesture that clears the playing field for horror. 

Stranger Things is good, but I'd be happy even if I didn't think it was. It started out as just my friends within and supporting the horror business singing its praises, but has since trickled down even to people who don't normally dabble in that kind of thing. That's great news. That's big news. 

The characterization, the pull of the love between a parent and a child, and the love of friends who become like family, is more powerful than anything else going on. I'd had a discussion online weeks ago with people who said they hated horror. What they meant was they hated terror porn-the miles of meat films with characters you weren't invested in, or didn't even like. 

I can't say I like that stuff either. 

I feel like it's a drive-through hamburger that has been soaked in grease, whereas the refined stuff that is multiple levels is a three course meal from a restaurant with a Michelin Star. It's okay to like the cheap stuff, it's okay to eat it sparingly if you're careful of your health, but judging an entire genre by it cuts the beauty out of it for you-and you might not even know what you're missing. 

Stranger Things is a good example. It even has Jungian themes, sort of disguised as an RPG, but they are definitely there. 

And believe me, it's still plenty creepy. 

It takes the everyday objects and makes them communication vehicles for trapped souls-or harbingers of the arrival of something terrible. It's a great technique, taking something we view as safe, as coincidental, and then twisting it. One of the scariest parts of Silent Hill is the radio. The rising static as you pass by something that wants to kill you-and you can't see it yet-but, now you's there. via GIPHY

And, on top of the frights, there is human complexity. There is desperate sadness. Desperate love. Desperate hope. There are moments when characters decide, in life or death situations, who they are. That's the heart of horror. And Stranger Things being a success means this is becoming more accessible. It's a period piece, doing a great job or portraying the 80's right down to the title sequence. It's also a quick watch, there's no reason not to try it out. 

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