There is a special challenge in generating a successful sequel. You have to delicately balance the desires and demands of your fans, while also giving them something new. In season two of Stranger Things, The Duffer brothers deliver a beautiful follow-up that is, arguably, even better than the first season. As any tantalizing finale should, the first season of Stranger Things left us with a myriad of lingering questions. “Is the gate to the Upside Down still open?” “What happened to Eleven?” “Where are the kids numbered 1-10?” “Oh God, is Will vomiting inter-dimensional slugs into his sink?” “Will Dustin’s teeth finally come in?” Blissfully, these questions are all answered by the end of the first episode of season two; there aren’t many resolutions we must await. We begin almost a year after Will’s rescue from the Upside Down, and Eleven’s apparent disappearance into it. Back in Right-Side Up Hawkins, things are relatively quiet. Naturally, our characters are still dealing with some fallout from season one. Will is plagued by periodic “episodes” that seem to transport him, psychically, to the Upside Down. Every night for about 350 days, Mike tries to contact Eleven via his walkie-talkie. Hopper is visited by a reporter investigating the conspiracy surrounding the disappearance of Barb Holland, before he’s called about an attack on local crops that make pumpkins look suspiciously like hatched xenomorph-eggs.
In recent horror, eighties nostalgia has seemingly reached a fever pitch. The cinematic remake of the 90’s television miniseries based on the Steven King novel It (2017) noticeably shifts the timeframe of the original story from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. In fact, the film goes out of its way to remind viewers of 80’s sights and sounds, particularly the decade’s movies. In one scene, the camera passes over the lone movie theatre of the small town whose marquee promotes: Lethal Weapon 2, Batman, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. However, the binge-worthy Netflix series, Stranger Things, takes its love of 80’s film even further. A poster for the decade’s remake of The Thing (1982) appears on a wall in a character’s home, and in the second season, the boys all dress up as characters from the Ghostbusters movies. But more than that, the series employs elements of 80’s movies so much so that they become crucial to the series’ plot. Is this just lazy script writing or is something else at work here?