By MAYA PAGE
It’s fall of 1984 in Hawkins, Indiana. Reagan is running for President, Ghostbusters is a blockbuster hit, the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane” is playing, VHS camcorders are the newest technology, hair is big and supernatural forces are once again taking over town.
On Oct. 27, “Stranger Things 2” was released on Netflix. The highly- anticipated sequel to Stranger Things gave fans nine straight hours of binging material. The first season left thousands of viewers wanting more, but there was a level of concern for how the creators would be able to pull off a second season. At the end of season one, the missing child, Will, returned home safe and the Demogorgon was defeated. It seemed like Hawkins was back to normal and the whole conflict of the show was resolved, so how would the creators continue?
Often, when a show gains such popularity from their pilot season, the sequel is not as authentic. However, the Duffer brothers, creators of “Stranger Things,” made yet another masterpiece that has perfectly mixed together the world of science fiction and horror with humor, sadness, nostalgia, love and fear.
There are new characters, new technology and special effects, along with a new threat in Hawkins. The Demogorgon may have been gone, but a new monster, the Mind Flayer, began not only taking over town, but Will’s body.
“Stranger Things 2” took on a possession storyline. This was risky because possession plots are so common in the industry that it often seems played out. However, the Duffer brothers made Will’s possession completely different than anything television has seen.
The danger of the Mind Flayer and the Demo-dogs are not what truly makes “Stranger Things 2” the show of the year. The supernatural forces in Hawkins leads as a base to the story, but what really brings the show to life is the characters and their evolution. The drama and human emotions are what pulls in so many viewers, even those who aren’t fans of science fiction.
Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will (Noah Schnapp), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) are still kids, just entering their teenage years. Although they aren’t normal kids, as they are trying to save their best friend from being taken over by a Mind Flayer and shifting into parallel dimensions, they are
still going through common teenage dilemmas, like not fitting in with classmates, being nerdy and having your first kiss.
The show gives viewers that nostalgic feeling of being young and innocent, while also being curious about the world and going on adventures. “Stranger Things” lets you know that you aren’t alone or a freak, and although the characters have huge battles to face within Hawkins lab, half the battle is being a teenager and figuring out life.
The child stars were definitely given much deeper and more emotional roles this season. Eleven was seen in a whole new light, as a rebellious teen with powers. Her scenes with her new father figure, Hopper, were intense. Viewers saw her get angry, vulnerable and dark, channeling into a whole new character and throwing psychic tantrums.
In an interview, Brown said that after filming episode seven with Eleven’s father she sobbed in the bathroom for 45 minutes because of the intensity.
Along with the evolution of characters, there was also a significant enhancement in the cinematography and special effects. Due to the huge success of the first season they were given a much larger budget for filming season two. In an interview with the Duffer brothers on “Beyond Stranger Things,” they said it was a hard decision to go from practical to digital because season one was so real, even the Demogorgon was a real actor in a suit.
“The whole post- production office is just filled with visual effects people now, a whole new experience from before. There was just one guy that was only there part-time,” Ross Duffer Said.
The Duffer brothers had a larger cinematic vision for Stranger Things 2 and they wanted the visual effects to play a much bigger role. They have kept the same elements that so many people loved from season one, while also becoming deeper, darker and bigger. The storyline goes deeper into the pasts of characters, into their emotions, and into what lurks beyond in the Upside Down.
“Stranger Things 2” leaves viewers in utter suspense, laughter, tears and desperately hoping for a third season.