he scariest thing about the trailer for Stranger Things, Netflix’s upcoming horror show set in the 80s, isn’t the panelled walls, the period wardrobe atrocities, or even Winona Ryder’s frightfully messy wig. No, it’s the font. Those bold red blocks are reminiscent of the scariest Stephen King novels, titles like Pet Sematary that used to stare out from bookshelves like they could put a curse on you.
The creepy trailer doesn’t give too much away, but it conjures up a very specific time and place – one where A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th had very recently terrorised you.
Ryder plays a woman whose son Will goes missing under mysterious circumstances. It seems to have something to do with a creepy shed (is there such a thing as a non-creepy shed?). She thinks something awful has happened to him and, given the rumbling music, it almost certainly has.
In another 80s movie twist, his friends come over all Stand By Me and go searching for him, riding their bikes through the suburban neighbourhood while a creepy white van (is there such a thing as a non-creepy white van?) goes flying over their heads.
What happened to Will, and precisely which mystical entity is threatening this small, once-safe town, is unclear. We see guys in containment suits a la ET, little kids with nosebleeds like Drew Barrymore in Firestarter, and lots of blinking lights and bare light bulbs like every horror movie ever made. It’s a keen trick: the trailer doesn’t make us scared of one specific thing, but scared of everything. It reminds us of all the times we’ve ever been terrified, stitches them together in two minutes and caps it off with Winona Ryder staring into a jumbled mess of Christmas lights – something so strange that I didn’t know I wanted to see it until I already had.
The trailer for Stranger Things teases us just enough to know that it’ll keep us up at night for as long as it takes to binge-watch the whole thing. And there was no binging back in the Stephen King days: this is going to be a fright overload.