Stranger Things 3 is the third season of the acclaimed Netflix series that follows in the aftermath of the second season's epic conclusion. With the Mind Flayer beast seemingly locked away in the Upside Down, the kids (led by Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven), police chief Hopper (David Harbour), and Joyce (Winona Ryder) try to return to normal lives. But when Russians attempt to reopen the gate to the other realm, the Mind Flayer sneaks back in and begins to wreak havoc on the town of Hawkins.
Stranger Things 3 Review
Of course it's worth noting the fault in reviewing this season so late in the game. A great deal of people had binged it the day it came out. But with our primary goal revolving around film, TV shows often take a backseat. Eventually, I was able to finally come around to it, and I'm so glad I did.
Stranger Things 3 picks up not only where the story left off in season 2, but also carrying the traditional nostalgic style of filmmaking that has made the series so charming and lovable. The 80s vibe recalls a time that was truly a golden age of filmmaking for scifi and horror, and houses some of the best stories on screen involving kids in the genres.
Yet, I have to admit that I wasn't a huge fan of season 2. I found Eleven's arc to be a bit dry and drawn out, inevitably leading to minuscule character development and little consequence to the overall plot. The creature also felt uninspired and lazy, simply putting the demogorgon on four legs, shrinking it a bit, and having a bunch of them. Sure, the introduction of the Mind Flayer was a great touch. And while I appreciate the puppet master approach to the villainous mass, it inevitably added to the dull execution of the mini-gorgons.
But season 3 was everything I wanted and more. The character development wasn't as sharp as it was in season 1, but I consider that a reasonable sacrifice for the great humor and monster set pieces that are delivered. This is easily the funniest season in the series, and for the most part it works. There is one gag in the finale that felt a bit drawn out to me, but other than that the laughs were well executed. The bickering of Hopper and Joyce gets old after the third consecutive episode of constant yelling in nearly every scene they're in, but it's not so much that I felt like turning off the show.
But the true masterpiece of the show was the execution of the monster. A bit of spoilers here, though I believe most have watch the series by now (you've been warned)...the Mind Flayer takes a physical form in this installment, essentially creating a smaller version of itself consisting of rats and people that are turned inside out and mashed together. The disgusting amalgamation of flesh is the most horrifying thing the show has put on display by far, seemingly paying homage to The Thing more successfully than perhaps even the pseudo-prequel did.
From a horror perspective, I would argue that the hospital scene trumps the final showdown with the Mind Flayer, only because it had the advantages of a claustrophobic environment and the first true gruesome reveal of the creature's manifestation. I wanted to watch the scene again as soon as it was over. The visceral nature of the creature's form is equal parts revolting and awesome. I couldn't get enough of not only the idea, but the execution of it.
Season 3 hit the gas a little harder than season 2. I'm hoping that the rumors of Netflix's inevitable demise come after season 4. Or, hopefully, Netflix will at least get an opportunity to sell the rights to a streaming service that will also be able to throw money at it.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 8/10