Review by Dennis D. McDonald
This Netflix series is a mass of unoriginal ideas and concepts: evil government agency; kid gets lost in alternative universe; monsters breaking through to our side; clueless parents; high school love triangle; schoolyard bullying; the crazy mom no one listens to; the heartbroken sheriff who becomes heroic; high schoolers escaping for a night out from an upstairs bedroom window; a mob of preteens on bicycles cruising through darkened streets. The list goes on.
Somehow it all works though and by the end we have a great yarn played out without pandering and without nudge-nudge-wink-wink inside jokes.
What's original here is the treatment. It's serious and respectful of its origins -- 1980's era monster, horror, supernatural and small town mystery movies. Plus well portrayed characters. Winona Ryder is the mom whose son's disappearance seems to have pushed her over the edge. The middle school kids and their camaraderie are wonderful to watch; I love it when kids aren't treated like idiots! The sheriff can't help but be dragged from lackadaisical performance of his duty to taking Winona's entreaties seriously. Plus we have this all presented with a backdrop of a small Indiana town that shows what life was like before the Internet and cellphones.
But it's not just a nostalgia fest; there's a real story here despite the familiar elements. It's a fun watch. I do feel sorry, though, for all the people who probably had to learn to smoke for this series!
Review copyright (c) 2016 by Dennis D. McDonald