Stranger Things 2 debuted last Friday, October 27th, and if you’re anything like me, you spent your weekend in a huddled mass of blankets binge-watching the whole season on Netflix. If you didn’t, you must have at least heard of the new season because of its massive media coverage and ad campaign. Since it came out, Stranger Things has become a cultural phenomenon.
A warning; this review contains spoilers for the end of season one!
Admittedly, I was doubtful but excited about a second season. Because we last saw Stranger Things at a cliffhanger, there were some things to clear up and connect together. There had to be a new villain even if it was just Will’s connection to the Upside Down. But what could beat the demigorgon? The first season was a perfect blend of horror, the eighties, and the story of friendship. The show’s sudden popularity put pressure to create an even better second season. It was hard to imagine them improving upon season one.
Stranger Things 2 begins a year after where the first season left off. They’ve saved Will from the Upside Down, Barb is dead, and Eleven is gone. The new season deals with the repercussions of the events of season one while also introducing a new and larger threat. This threat quite literally looms over the town of Hawkins in the form of a giant shadow monster in the Upside Down.
Without spoilers, in case you haven’t binged the whole season, the new story reaches epic proportions. The Upside Down is something that is still there and a danger to Hawkins, even more so than it was before.
The story doesn’t just focus on Hawkins and the shadow monster. It explores characters outside of what we saw in season one and how the events affected everyone. While that separated characters longer than I would have liked, it’s also nice to see a bunch kids trying to find where they belong and behaving like normal teenagers. The acting, especially considering the age of the child actors, is amazing and emotional to watch.
The actual production of the film has the same tone of the first season. The soundtrack is a selection of songs from the seventies and early eighties that perfectly blended scenes together. The transitions are beautifully set up and timed. And it wouldn’t be Stranger Things without the darkness of the Upside Down, flickering lights, and suspense in scenes. Although I didn’t live in the eighties so couldn’t compare it first hand, I can compare it to the mood and image of the eighties that I have grown up learning about, and Stranger Things embodies the setting they have placed it in.
I wouldn’t argue Stranger Things 2 was better than Stranger Things. But I would argue that they managed to reach the same level of excitement and horror that had people watching in the first place. Stranger Things 2 left me in awe of the characters and cinematography.
Most importantly, the ending was beautifully set up and I can’t imagine the second season any other way.