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Netflix’s Stranger Things returns, here’s what you need to know about the Upside Down

Full of 1980s nostalgic pop-culture, the alternate world sci-fi horror series will air just before Halloween, and fans will be pleased to see the return of Eleven

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 7:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 7:02pm

The nostalgia-heavy, small-screen blockbuster Stranger Things returns to Netflix with a new season on October 27 – just in time for a pre-Halloween weekend binge session.

Netflix unveiled the trailer for the upcoming season of the breakout hit at this month’s Comic-Con in San Diego, and it’s chock-full of 1980s pop cultural references. The kids are dressed as the Ghostbusters for Halloween. They’re playing Dragon’s Lair at the arcade. There’s a Reagan/Bush 1984 campaign yard sign. Vincent Price’s voice-over on Michael Jackson’s Thriller narrates the whole thing.

The footage was shown as part of a panel discussion with executive producers Shawn Levy, and Matt and Ross Duffer, as well as much of the cast.

The Duffers say they had always intended the show to be similar to “Spielberg directing a big, fat Stephen King book.”

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The big takeaway is that Eleven is back. The mysterious girl with mysterious powers shows up at the end of the teaser, and it looks as if she’s found a way to get out of the “Upside Down”.

The iconic character is played by Millie Bobby Brown, who is up for a best supporting actress Emmy for the role. Eleven will be a full-fledged character in the second season, say the show’s creators. “Her role is substantial and really satisfying,” says executive producer Shawn Levy.

Brown told the 6,000 fans that playing the enigmatic Eleven was tough because she had so few lines to work with. “I had to express everything with my face which is very hard. But it gets easier when you feel more comfortable with your character.”

“The first two episodes – I immediately fell in love with Eleven and Eleven was me. The only thing that was hard was crying. I feel like I’m a happy person in real life so that when I’m crying I would need five minutes to get in the zone.”

The sci-fi thriller miniseries began in fictional Hawkins, Indiana, in 1983, with the disappearance of a boy, Will, after a serious Dungeons & Dragons session. There are some supernatural forces at play, and we follow Will’s mother, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), the police chief and the boy’s friends – helped by Eleven – as they search for Will.

This new season begins in 1984, and it appears that not all is well with Will. The last time we saw Noah Schnapp’s character, he was coughing up weird slug-like tentacles but pretending that everything was cool in front of his family.

Well, guess what? Everything is definitely not cool. He’s seeing giant, scary creatures when he should be seeing video games. “I saw something,” he says. Concerned mother Joyce is still very much concerned. “What is it?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” Will says with giant tears welling up in his eyes. “I felt it everywhere.”

Schnapp told Entertainment Weekly that this new season is “a lot darker and scarier,” adding that it will explain how Will being in the Upside Down “affected him personally and mentally, and they’ll get more into everyone’s story lines.”

And will there be #Justice4Barb, the character played by Shannon Purser? She will not somehow be resurrected from the dead, the show’s creators said at a Comic-Con panel. But “Barb will be avenged”, said cast member David Harbour – and that’s in addition to the guest actress Emmy nod Purser earned for the role.

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The cast has also grown with the addition of Sadie Sink as Max, a girl who just moved to town from California; her older brother, Billy, will be played by Dacre Montgomery. Billy “is that Stephen King model of not all evil is paranormal” and “a very scary real-world character,” Levy told USA Today.

Stranger Things, which premiered in July last year has picked up 18 nominations ahead of September’s ceremony in recognition of its eight-episode first season. Season 2 will have nine episodes.

Additional reporting by AFP