Each episode of Stranger Things appears give a sly nod and wink to existing horror films and/or video games. In this instance “Chapter Three: Holly Jolly” thrusts the viewer into a Silent Hill-ish environment at the very start of the episode. It is also evocative of Stephen King’s “From a Buick Eight,” not the overall plot but the subplot or plot device of an alternative world. Something that King’s book and this series, also have in common with Silent Hill.
(Fans of the game Silent Hill will recall that the alternative world was in James’ head, for all intents and purposes, but that is still a parallel or alternate setting nonetheless)
It would not be surprising to find that Will has been taken into a parallel world. Take away the falling ash, a’la Silent Hill the 2006 film and the theme is of another dimension. A place where Will is hiding from the faceless creature who chased the boy to his home and took Barb.
(Speaking of nods and winks in relation to Stephen King: Look at the scene where the explorer goes into the alien looking entrance with a cable attached to his suit. Just as the brave chap discovers some growly thing is in there with him, the cable begins to whip back and forth and whirl about in circles. Dr. Brenner orders the man reeled in and the cable suddenly goes limp. At the end of the cable, instead of the explorer there is a bloody bit of suit. Who did not think of Stephen King’s “The Mist?”)
It is all too tempting to watch Stranger Things just to find out how many loving homages the Duffer Brothers have included. However, the storyline itself is the main attraction here. In this installment, for example, more is learned about Eleven.
We find out that the girl’s powers are enormous. She kills the two technicians who take her to the room, after refusing to kill a cat. She also suffers nose bleeds, or leaks blood from her ears, when she uses her power.
*Sidenote* The funniest bit in the series thus far was Dustin holding the Millennium Falcon model up and releasing it so Eleven could make it fly. The thing drops to the floor twice as the girl looks blankly at Dustin. Later, when she is on her own, the model is floating in the air while she fiddles with the handheld radio. Very funny indeed.
Joyce Byers learns that she can talk to Will via the lights. Her son Jonathan believes that she is having a breakdown. She puts up Christmas lights and uses them to communicate with her missing son.
Eleven explores MIke’s house while he is at school. (Another funny bit has Mike frustratedly bellowing at his mother when she tells him to hurry up, again.) This is used to tell us more about Eleven. Some things are not clear, such as her emotional reaction to the music box and the pictures on Nancy’s wall. Her interactions with things in the house peel back more layers.
MIke’s mother, along with his little sister Holly, bring Joyce a casserole. The little girl goes into Will’s room and the thing in the wall reaches for her. Joyce realizes that Holly actually saw the creature in the wall as well. She sends the two away.
Steve and his friends rip up Jonathan’s pictures of the party and break his camera. Nancy is not impressed and she starts to help Byers pick up the torn photos. Later, when she expresses concern for her missing friend, Steve turns out to be a bit of a douche.
Eleven re-lives the cat episode, triggered by the cat she sees behind Mike’s house. We learn that the child was monitored and observed. She was put through trials and forced to use her powers. (Once again, a little reminiscent of another King book and protagonist; “Firestarter” and Charlie McGee.)
Nancy goes to Steve’s house and finds Barb’s car. She goes into the woods behind his pool and sees the faceless creature that took Will and her friend. Joyce speaks to Will using the Christmas Lights. Eleven takes the boys to Will’s house and as the boys argue, the police and an ambulance zoom past.
Will tells his mother that he is “right here” and then tells Joyce to “run.” The faceless thing claws its way out of the wall and chases Joyce into the night. The three boys and Eleven follow the police to the local quarry.
They watch in horror as Will’s body is taken from the water. Mike is furious with Eleven and accuses her of lying about his missing friend.
Stranger Things is clearly about parallel worlds or universes. The clues are all there. Take for example the name of Dr. Brenner’s testing facility and the town it is located in – Hawkins. This is very close to “Hawking” as in Professor Stephen Hawking, who touts the theory that black holes may lead to parallel universes.
Just a thought…
Kudos to Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown. When the Emmys roll around for this year, both these performers should be getting gongs for their performance. Ryder and Brown managed to evoke laughter and tears in Chapter Three alone.
There are five episodes left of this Netflix series and many viewers have already binged the entire season. For those who cannot bear for this to be over just yet, join us as we watch one episode at a time.