Stranger Things: The Monster – Firestarter & Carrie (Review)

Eleven in Stranger Things

With just two episodes left, Stranger Things has cranked everything up. In “Chapter Six: The Monster” the show slips ever deeper into Stephen King Land as the plot encompasses Carrie and Firestarter. Granted the “Carrie “connection has been there from the start. Not in a teenage girl going through a nuclear meltdown way but with El’s telekinesis and telepathic powers. “Firestarter” is represented through college drug tests  which left Eleven (Jane) with “super powers.”

Eleven is a combination of Carrie  White and Charley McGee but with a lot more control of her abilities than either of King’s two female protagonists. This is a 12 year old girl who can, with a twist of her head, break a grown man’s neck. If El were Carrie she would do much more to that little town and her perceived bullies in that walk home.

This episode starts with Nancy still trapped in the upside/down place (Silent Hill still seems more apropos with that “ash” falling down around a decaying environment…).  Jonathan shouts for her to follow the sound of his voice.

Her hand shoots out of the tree, where she climbed through like a teen Alice venturing into a horrid wonderland, and scares Jonathan, and us. He pulls her out of the tree and for an instant we are plunged into the original Poltergeist and Carol Anne being pulled out of her other-worldly dimension.

This is a busy episode. Everyone rushing here and there learning things. We learn  about the missing Ives girl,  that mouth breathers come in all sizes and that teen love makes you very aggressive.  We also witness the great Hawkins Eggo robbery of 1983.

Sheriff Hopper and Joyce Byers:

The sheriff and Joyce track down Terry Ives.  The woman  who claimed that the government agency took her baby away. Jane Ives, according to her mother’s statements, has special powers.

Hopper and Byers meet Terry (Aimee Mullins) and her sister. Terry is in a fugue state, not talking or communicating. Her mind blown by her daughter’s disappearance. They learn about CIA drug trials that Terry took part in from her sister. 

In a nod to the 1980 horror sci-fi film Altered States, after Terry and the other volunteers were drugged up, they were placed in isolations tanks.  Terry’s sister tells Hopper and Joyce that Jane was never born.

The hospital said that the baby was lost in its third trimester. Terry has always denied her child’s death.

Jonathan and Nancy:

The two teens go to set up a monster hunting kit. (They even tell the man at the till that is what they are doing.) Before the purchases of cartridges, bear traps and a few other odds and ends, the two spend the night together at Nancy’s house.

Steve sees the two of them on Nancy’s bed and believes the worst. The next day he and his friends write that Nancy is a slut on the local theatre marquee. She confronts Steve and he goes after Jonathan.

Nancy’s former boyfriend taunts him about his mother and Will. Jonathan snaps and beats Steven down. The cops arrive and one of them s inadvertently punched by Byers. The angry teen  gets put in cuffs and arrested. Steve and his two pals escape.

Lucas, Mike, El and Dustin:

After last week’s dustup, where El threw Lucas off of Mike and then disappeared, Mike is upset that El is still missing.  Dustin attempts to put things right between his two friends  by forcing Mike to apologize to Lucas.

It all falls apart when Lucas refuses to accept unless El is forced out of the group. The lads split. Lucas is determined to find Will himself.  Dustin and Mike head through the woods shouting for El who is eating her stolen Eggo’s.

The two mouth breathers follow the two younger boys to the woods. They chase them to the quarry where one pulls a knife. Dustin goes on the attack and gets grabbed. Troy tells Mike that unless he jumps off the edge of the quarry, he will start removing all of Dustin’s baby teeth.

Mike jumps.

El saves him and then breaks Troy’s arm with her mind. The two lads run off as Dustin shouts at them not to return.  He yells that their friend is crazy and will “kill you,  you sons of bitches.”

Meanwhile, Lucas discovers that the the villains are all using cable repair vans to search for El.

Eleven is clearly Jane Ives and she does have special powers. These are what allowed her to unlock the gate and let the monster through. She tells Mike that she is the monster. El is in tears over the guilt.  she feels responsible  for the creature getting Will.

Mike tell El that she is not the monster and he hugs the girl. After a moment Dustin joins in.

The Periphery:

Under random thoughts and observations there are the references to classics in the horror genre. John Carpenter’s The Thing film poster features prominently in Mike’s room. The story line has many nods to films in the horror genre.

The music and score to the series is straight from the ’80s. There is a Silent Hill tribute combined with techno beat synth sounds  that places the series firmly in the 1980s.

Mr. Clarke is approached by that female agent in an attempt to lock down the three lads and find Eleven.  Brenner’s men all arms themselves as if going into battle for a country when they head out to recapture Eleven.

And Finally:

Stranger Things is cracking television. The only real complaint is that this first season is only eight episodes.  The Duffer Bros have created a show that is mesmerizing.  The cast, especially the youngsters in the show are off the chain in terms of performances.

Wynona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown have both  moved viewers to tears more than once in this season.  Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton just killed it in this episode.

Stranger Things  is on Netflix. All episodes are there for viewing in one go. If however, one episode at a time is how you roll then take your time and savor this splendid offering.


Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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