Stranger Things: The Upside Down – Aliens and It (Review)

Jonathan, Joyce and Nancy

What a season finale.  Stranger Things threw every horror/sci fi reference possible into their last episode. “The Upside Down” had shades of Aliens, It,  Silent Hill,  Nightmare on Elm Street, and even Christine.  (And the hospital bed scene with Will could be a nod to Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz, which throws fantasy into the mix.)

Will has a tentacle down his throat, like Newt in Aliens. Lucas shoots the monster with a wrist rocket, a’la Beverly Marsh in Stephen King’s It. The upside down is Silent Hill sans the fog, in Stranger Things the world is dark but has the falling ash from the film.

Just like the protagonists in King’s Christine, despite Jonathan and Nancy battling the monster, with a little help form Steve (redemption with a nail studded baseball bat) and going through so much together, they do not end up as a couple. Nancy gets back with rich kid Steve. Very disappointing.

By the end of the episode, Will is back, but he is a bit different. Something has hitched a ride back with the boy.  (There is another Silent Hill moment where the bathroom suddenly changes.  The video game has  numerous instances of normal restrooms and bathrooms suddenly turning all, well, Silent Hill-ish.) There is a specked slug and along with the hopeful note of  El possibly surviving there is a stomach clenching one where Will coughs up that bit of nasty from his own throat.

The finale of Stranger Things was a brilliant action fest.  Everyone was busily trying to defeat the monster, save El, retrieve El, or find Will.  Mike and Eleven share a first kiss and naughty Dr. Brenner (“Bad Poppa”) gets his face bitten off by the monster.

Eleven shows how powerful she really is by killing a slew of villainous government employees in one fell swoop.

We learn how Hopper’s daughter died, just one of many tissue box moments, and the police chief shows a deeper shade of brave when he stands up to Brenner’s associates.  Although it looks like he made some sort of deal as they come back for the chief later.

Granted, the scientist believed that both Hopper and Joyce would die in the upside down. Or at the very least never return, which amounts to the same thing.

The battle between Nancy, Jonathan, and eventually Steve, and the creature  was brilliant. It could have been scripted by Stephen King (who will, according to a number of sites, be writing the new season) and it was a show stopper.

(Sidenote: It was all “Nightmare on Elm Street” this bit.  Replicating, to a huge degree, Nancy’s battle with Freddy Krueger.)

Steve turns out to be a good guy after all. Sadly, his two douche-y friends are not gobbled up by the monster.

Eleven destroys the upside down monster and disappears.  This is a major downer except that Hopper seems to have some sort of inside info going. Why else would he drop off Eggos for the girl in a box, in the woods?

Stranger Things was a brilliant series.  It blew up on social media and has generated enough articles already to guarantee instant classic status.  Netflix have already greenlit a second season and the young actors have earned star status for their work in the show.

Brit actress Millie Bobby Brown is beyond adorable and the kid can act her little cotton socks off. The rest the youngsters are no slouches in the acting department either.

It has been a great ride with the protagonists, and the villainous Dr. Brenner, and despite the urge to binge the entire season, doing one episode a week worked out very well in the end.

As far as the Internet and television are concerned, the series has been over for some time. The “kids from Stranger Things” were on Jimmy Fallon’s tonight show and did a skit, an interview and a silly string game.  It looks like Dustin (Matarazzo) may be enjoying his fame a tad too much.

We leave you with the “Barb Returns” segment from Jimmy Fallon while we wait impatiently for season two of Stranger Things.


Author: Mike's Film Talk

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

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