Review: Stranger Things 2

8/10

After more than a year of waiting, fans of the fantasy horror thriller Stranger Things were able to rejoice at the release of the second season, Oct. 27. After following the search for Will Byers, a boy who goes missing in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, the show returns with the dangerous consequences that accompany Will’s return to his friends and family. The show’s return marks the start of a new adventure for Will and his friends, an adventure marked by forces much darker than those in the previous season. While the first season played on mystery and the paranormal, this season is far more action-packed, replacing mysterious shadow figures with monsters and gore.

One of the most impressive feats of this show is the acting, which reaches phenomenal heights, especially considering that a majority of the actors are preteens. A major standout is Noah Schnapp, who plays Will Byers. The first season saw him play a relatively minor role (as he was missing for most of it); however, Stranger Things 2 is where he truly stands out, delivering raw emotion through Will’s battle with an inner demon.

A disappointment of this season, however, is the introduction of two new major characters: Max (Sadie Sink) and her stepbrother, Billy (Dacre Montgomery). Their appearance falls flat. Max’s character seems to serve little purpose other than to introduce a love triangle among the kids, making it feel forced and out of place. Billy’s purpose of being a human antagonist for the kids also is also out of place, as his appearances are minimal. If anything, he is more of an annoyance than a form of human evil.

The cinematography of season 2 is outstanding, following the precedent set by the first season. The set designs follow the plotline, constantly changing based on what is occurring in the show—for example, Will’s home, which is covered with the map of the vines as his friends and family work to track them. The lighting and colors closely follow the eerie atmosphere of the season.

Characters also undergo great development in this season, as many unexpected relationships form. The friendship between Eleven and Hopper mimic that of a father and daughter, and through this relationship we are able to see growth in both characters.

The score also closely follows the tone set by the plot of the show. It fits the 1980s time frame perfectly, and still manages to create a sense of uncertainty.

Despite a few setbacks, creators Matt and Ross Duffer once again are able to emulate the eerie atmosphere and engaging plotline of the Stranger Things world that viewers initially fell in love with.