The Duffer brothers continue to make friendship and family the beating heart that drives the story but the Spielbergian wonder of season one has been replaced with paranoia
Terminator may be playing at the cinema, but it's Judgement Day in Hawkins, Indiana with the kids coming of age in dark and distressing times. The Duffer brothers continue to make friendship and family the beating heart that drives the story in season two of Stranger Things but it's 1984 and there's something toxic in the air with the US election that ushered in Ronald Reagan as president for his second term in full swing. Bands like Devo, Icicle Works and Scorpions provide a disquieting and often amusing soundtrack for Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) as they battle against adolescence and a sinister entity that has been haunting Will (Noah Schnapp) since he returned from the Upside Down.
Sean Astin is a new addition to the cast as Bob Newby, an adorable character who is a huge fan of board games, it almost feels like he's reviving Mikey from The Goonies as an adult. The Stephen King references are still apparent with the appearance of Max (Sadie Sink), a modernised version of Beverly from It, who is rad at arcade games and nifty with a skateboard. Dacre Montgomery plays troubled teen Billy, who suffers with severe anger issues, his performance is a blend of Jason Patric's sex appeal and Kiefer Sutherland's threatening charm in The Lost Boys.
The Spielbergian wonder of season one has been replaced with paranoia, PTSD and the hangover from the Vietnam War. Halloween and Assault on Precinct 13 are clearly influences for season two with the fear from 70s conspiracy thrillers such as The Parallax View and Klute playing neatly into dangerous mission to report the truth about Barb (Shannon Purser). There's a pleasing punky, new wave vibe to a main character's rebellious phase with one of the episodes playing out like John Hughes meets John Carpenter. The maturation of the kids shifts season two to surprising and thrilling territory to explore how they deal with their burgeoning independence and sexuality.
Stranger Things, Season 2, available on Netflix from Fri 27 Oct.