- Title: Stranger Things – Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers
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Overflowing with 80s Speilberg style, Stranger Things opens with not one but two pre-credit horror sequences teasing of something very dangerous. The first of these takes place at the Hawkins National Laboratory where something some kind of dangerous creature has escaped. The second involves something ominous hunting down middle school student Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) on his bike ride home from playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). In neither case do we get a good look at the creature, but it’s obvious something very strange is going on in the otherwise sleepy town of Hawkins, Indiana.
Most of the first episode centers around the search for Will, who isn’t discovered missing until the next morning by his overworked mother (Winona Ryder) and older brother (Charlie Heaton). Although the police chief (David Harbour) is reluctant to believe anything bad could ever happen in Hawkins, the discovery of the boy’s abandoned bicycle in the woods along with clues left in the shack behind the home where he disappeared force the man to admit something sinister may have befallen the missing boy.
Crisscrossing with the main storyline are subplots involving Mike’s sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and her infatuation with a popular boy (Joe Keery) at school. If the 80s horror themes hold true, I’m expecting their sneaking around to make-out will eventually put one or both in danger. The other major plot point involves a young girl (Millie Bobby Brown) who the episode teases may very well be the unusual creature who escaped from the government facility. It takes until the premiere’s very last scene, but eventually this storyline connects with the disappearance of Will as his friends encounter the strange girl win the woods while seeking their lost friend.
Stylistically show creators Matt and Ross Duffer go a bit crazy with aping Spielberg, but it works in setting up multiple mysteries for the season to explore while dropping hints some characters are more than they appear. The infighting between the friends and at the Wheeler’s dinner table feels very natural which works well as a counterbalance to the more bizarre elements of the story. As for the truth about the government agency, what truly happened to Will, and just who or what that young girl truly is, I guess I’ll have to continue watching to find out.