To quote a rather appropriate 1980s supernatural horror sequel, they’re back! Last week saw us welcomed back to the town of Hawkins, Indiana, where things are indeed stranger…
It’s 1984, and, while it has been almost a year since the events of Stranger Things Season One, the consequences of the events which occurred are still present. After being rescued from the upside down, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) still suffers episodes where the world around him seems to turn into the upside down. If you thought the Demogorgon, the ‘big bad’ of Season 1 was bad, that is merely a drop in the ocean of bad compared to the big bad of Season Two. Will’s episodes are haunted by a colossal shadow being that wants to destroy humanity and turn the world into the upside down. Same old, same old.
A new year sees some new additions to an already phenomenal cast. ‘80s star Sean Astin joins as Joyce Byers’ (Winona Ryder) new boyfriend and all-round stand-up guy Bob. Joining the kids cast is Sadie Sink as Max, the new addition to the main group of boys.
Something that sticks out about this second instalment is the air of maturity that comes with it. A year has passed, and the kids are growing up both in real life and on the show. There is a clear improvement in the quality of acting from the younger cast as they grow older. The cast’s ability to act out the emotional fluctuation that comes with puberty is commendable; who’d have thought that a bunch of pubescent 13-year olds could portray stroppy pubescent 13-year olds so well? Finn Wolfhard’s acting ability has vastly improved portraying Mike; he spends a lot of the season lamenting over the loss of Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven, pining for his lost love with a face sour enough to curdle milk. A surprising breakthrough is the performance of Schnapp as Will. Having had the least amount of screen time and dialogue last season, Schnapp truly comes into his own this season. The season is very Will-centric; the vast majority of the action centres on Will, and Schnapp makes sure that he stands out. Schnapp has the standout performance of the season, his emotional range is something to be applauded. As expected, Brown’s performance as Eleven is yet again phenomenal. Winona Ryder steals the gaze once more as Joyce; her performance is even more heart-wrenching and powerful than last season.
You can’t talk about Stranger Things without mentioning the soundtrack in the same breath. The synth-heavy rhythms of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein welcome you back to Hawkins with a shudder-inducing familiarity. The suspense felt in the season is aided substantially by the soundtrack. The moments where your quickening heartbeat keeps pace with the thumping bass adds to the nerve-wracking intensity of the situations.
Once again, the format of storytelling is second-to-none. The maturity stretches into the tone of the story, with it becoming even darker and more twisted than last season. The pacing of the story keeps the viewer hooked for all 9 episodes; when there is a lull in the action, the emotional intensity of the scenes keeps your drawn in.
It felt fantastic to be welcomed back to Hawkins. Stranger Things 2 lived up to and smashed through the expectations preceding its release. If there’s anything to be taken away from it, it’s that Stranger Things is a ground-breaking piece of television that only gets better, and that the majority of life’s problems can be solved with analogies to Dungeons & Dragons.
(Image: Business Insider)