This entry was written by AkityMH, who you can find at https://www.deviantart.com/akitymh. I may have made a few touch ups and notes here and there, but the bulk of this entry is their work!
I can speak to the high heavens just how good the Netflix series of Stranger Things is, and many others can too. This was nothing short of the truest and purest love letters to the types of horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s… More so the 80’s, because Stranger Things actually takes place in the early to mid 80’s of the suburban town setting. A quiet little town, forest all around, nothing really going on, coke cans were the size of boxing gloves and made with actual real sugar, dinner could be thrown into a microwave and full of terrible chemicals that may cause cancer, and the absolutely ever loving fear mongering of anyone outside of the United States coming over and destroying the single and one true way of life.
Everything is here and accounted for, including Dungeons and Dragons! Oh yes, Dungeons and Dragons… The ever wonderful game of imagination that is but one single cord of this instrument that is a television series. The show uses Dungeons and Dragons for an interesting way of describing a complex, eldritch horror in an amazingly simplistic way. I’ll get to that in a minute.
The story begins with some secret United States espionage secret service running for their lives from an unseen horror that quickly makes its presence clear as the vacant air it often leaves behind as it pops in and out of the shadows. This creature, dark, unfeeling, unstoppable… hungry.
This beast is what the story will call the Demogorgon, a monster of the Dungeons and Dragons manual that… looks nothing like this thing, what am I looking at? An alien echinoderm from an alternate side of what we call reality, that’s what. Remember how I said that D&D is a chord in the instrument of a series? Well, it is revealed that this creature is from what we come to call The Upside-Down, a world that is basically described as the other side of the string that our existence stands on. We cannot interact with it on a normal basis. It’s as abstract as Light and Darkness, and much like Light and Darkness, the world this creature comes from is cold and barren despite being nearly identical to ours. It is literally a shadow of our reality.
Allow that to set the stage for what the Demogorgon is. It fades in and out of reality, often following the scent of blood to possible prey. It abducts, right from the get go, one of the main protagonists of our world and drags them into Upside-Down World where he barely gets by, prompting a slew of events that cascade into a sense of traversing the darkness of the unknown.
That darkness is very much staring back, waiting with very sharp teeth as some curious people poke their fingers in and agitate it out.
The Demogorgon lets its presence be felt through most of the seasons. It is a creature that to us seems unstoppable. It often isn’t seen until it steps into our world like a crocodile from the waterside to drag us into its domain to devour. When it is attacked, it proves very hard to kill. Bullets don’t stop it, neither does setting the damn thing on fire as we eventually learn… Although, it does very much hate the warmth and light of our world, as a creature of the opposite of our world certainly would find such a concept alien to it as it’s own is alien to us.
What Stranger Things gives us, is such a beautiful story to begin with, but it is legitimately nail biting in its atmosphere. Where does this monster come from that we accidentally invited into our midst? Where can it go? Can it be stopped? Is there more? Who can we turn to, and that question is very relevant as it was the fear of what will come to get us and trying to avoid it which has summoned this menace in this unsuspecting east coast town. The Demogorgon is brought to our reality by the United States using powers beyond our comprehension to spy on just another group of people who are most likely equally as paranoid of outsiders coming to get them. That whole theme of something out there that most likely cannot be stopped is forever following you through this entire series in all of its seasons. It can easily get to you one way or the other, and it may have intentions for you that may leave you for dead… if you’re lucky, anyway. Dying isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you, but living in absolute cold, unfeeling intent for your entire life is.
That is until a lot of us come together and actually try to make things better, much like our group of heroes in this story. An outsider, a young girl named Eleven, is a total outsider who is part of the reason a lot of this is happening, though against her will. She has the power of telekinesis, and that was used by men of power to spy on their enemies on the other side of the planet, accidentally stepping in the wrong place when Eleven had accidently sensed the Demogorgon on the shadowy side of reality and inviting it in without knowing what it was. Eleven is then accepted, though not by everyone off the bat, and all is done to help her get away from those who wish to misuse her for their own gain. As the series goes on, she has to come to terms with her trauma as well and not to pass on the cycle of abuse as her captors had. On the other side, the Demogorgon may also as well be a victim in this by a degree as we learn it is also under the tyrannical control of something far, far greater than just a man eating monster. We may never know, but there is more coming up. Even as I type this, Season 4 has been teased to us just short of the Halloween Month of October around the corner. Maybe we will get those answers, even if it turns out the Demogorgons are still somewhat vicious creatures, but still wish to just be out of the control of those who wish to abuse them to get what they want, then by all means give me that. I want more Stranger Things.
There is so much more I could just go on and on about. All of these characters are compelling, built and molded by the United States domestic world for better and worse. There are people who have lost loved ones for other reasons, people who never knew loved ones like Eleven, young children who thought they had it all good until shit hit the fan, the mother of Billy going crazy after her son gets snatched out of our reality, there is another family that has a overly strict dad we can all love to hate, teenagers doing typical teenage things… But the thing is, all of them are very human! Even the shitty ones tend to just people; ordinary people we can identify with and see how they got to where they are and how they may have done better.
If you have not watched Stranger Things, I greatly insist you change that and form an opinion all on your own. It isn’t perfect, but it has a very specific and charming feel to it that you only get when you watch classic movies like Ghosbusters or The Dark Crystal, or any of those kinds of movies from a few decades ago. Five bucks says any of you reading this most likely have seen at least Ghostbusters once, or maybe The Neverending Story, so this may be up your alley.
Damn good show.