Watch | 29. May 2022

Not So Stranger Things Anymore

It´s been three years since we said Goodbye to Hawkings, Indiana, and all the strange things that happened there. For me, that show made me join Netflix six years ago as I was hooked almost from the very first minute. The thing is: I do not like horror fantasy or science fiction normally, but "Stranger Things" I binched whenever it came back with a new season.

That´s because it was an expertly assembled and precisely calibrated soufflé of Gen-X nostalgia, Spielbergian family melodrama and more-intense-than-expected sci-fi-horror adventure. It was my very own past of first watching American television shows and also a pretty cool look and feel that came back just then.

In the show’s new season, you feel the buildup to a piece of fan service, but once it’s there, it generally falls flat. Watching four teenagers ride their bikes through the Midwestern night has an automatic resonance, but that’s all there is to it — it’s a perfunctory callback to juice our emotions.

One of the first season’s best ideas, in which a 12-year-old trapped in an alternate dimension used his family’s Christmas lights to communicate, is consciously recycled. All in all the show seems more brutal than before - mostly symbolized by mean Russians wo keep their prisoners to be fed alive to the monster we know all to well.

Since there is a war of annihilation going on in Ukraine iniciated by Russians who show no mercy to civilians, raping and murdering them on their way to a foul victory, the movie gets an involuntarily momentum: when the cold war was a blast from the past of the show´s setting in the mid eighties, it now seemed to show us real Russian soldiers as mean and fiendish while the violence on the Amerian side has at least it´s scientific benefits.

Hopper has to suffer within that inhuman system - only to get hopefull rescued by a middleaged woman with good intentions and an elderly nerd with some karate skills. Speaking of those two: Winona Ryder and David Harbout naturally manage easily that long break beween the last two seasons. And they are both great actors.

Something you may not say about all of the central cast members, many of whom were around 12 when the show began. The show’s timeline has moved only three years, which means that many of them are also looking awfully mature for their supposed ages. Some, including Matarazzo, Brown, Sink and Priah Ferguson, are as engaging as ever, but some haven’t added real acting skills to their adolescent charm, and occasionally a scene just goes dead.

While the details of “Stranger Things” are much the same, the show has strategically shifted. Season 4 continues a progress away from the heightened, delicate emotionalism and wry humor and toward the guilt, dread and body-terror-associated with Brian De Palma and David Cronenberg. It’s a logical move — the particular magic of the first season was probably impossible to maintain — but for me the show has lost its magic.

After all, I am no fan of horror fantasy or science fiction.