Solid reviews for Stranger Things 2

Ben Arnold

The critics have binged, and the reviews are in.

Netflix hit ‘Stranger Things’ has returned to small screens in the form of ‘Stranger Things 2’, and thus far it’s mostly thumbs up. Mostly.

The Duffer Brothers, creators of the nostalgia-heavy series, have placed the action a year after the events of the first movie, beginning at Halloween, 1984.

While the residents of Hawkins have been traumatised by the events of Will Byers’ disappearance, they’re also seeking to return things to normal (however one does that after tales of demogorgons and an alternate reality called ‘the upside down’ existing directly alongside them).

A PTSD-riddled Will is now having visions of a ‘shadow monster’, and David Harbour’s Chief Jim Hopper is helping – but struggling to – cover up the events of the first series to protect Will and his mum Joyce (Winona Ryder).

“That’s the real power of Stranger Things – once you come into contact with the monsters, even if you escape from the Upside Down, you might not be able to come all the way back home,” writes Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone.

Catherine Gee in the Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, appreciates a slight change in tone.

“The usual teenage camaraderie and humour is there, but Duffer brothers have ramped up the horror,” she says.

“After what is a fairly benign opening episode, the sinister tension and the gore (though mercifully still on the right side of too much), drips and then flows. To any who may be wondering if this season is scary, the answer is a resounding yes.”

That said, like the original series, not everyone loves it.

Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson writes that it ‘plays like a lukewarm rehash, with a bit more red meat thrown in to cover up the mustiness. It’s a classic sequel form, really’.

Others are impressed, but with reservations.

“Go ahead and call it Stranger Things 2,” writes Erik Adams on AV Club. “But it’s also the second season of Stranger Things, nine more episodes of a surprise phenomenon that might be uneven, but still has plenty of power up its sleeve.”

Adds Entertainment Weekly: “This season is set in 1984, the same year that Gremlins was satirizing every genre trope that Stranger Things treats as High Gospel. So there is no excuse for wheelspinning through tired story beats. But maybe you think that’s the point, that the oddly gutless storytelling reflects how safely the show has hermetically sealed itself off from the stresses of today… No one will complain if Stranger Things 3 rips off the concept of brevity.”

It lands on Netflix on October 27.

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