A couple of weeks ago, I spent a few days immersed in Netflix’s new original series, Stranger Things. As someone who grew up in the 1980s and ‘90s, the show proved a wonderful exercise in nostalgia; a delightful amalgam of the wide-eyed Spielbergian ingenuousness and nightmarescapes of Stephen King that so informed my youth. From the moment the opening credits began I was hooked and a large part of this had to do with the show’s opening theme music.
Composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, members of the Austin-based electronic outfit SURVIVE, the show’s theme immediately brings us into the curious world of Stranger Things. Analog synthesizer motifs creep in and out of the mix, pulsating ominously, intoning dread. A percussive heartbeat simmers underneath, propelling us forward into awaiting disaster and, paradoxically, backward to another time and place. When combined with the show’s titles—its typography recalling the King novels and horror VHS covers that so entranced and terrified kids in the 80s and 90s—the effect is simultaneously satisfying and unnerving, an ambivalence that extends to the show’s overall aesthetic. There’s comfort to be found in nostalgia, yes, but with Stranger Things it’s a twisted déjà vu. Continue reading at MUBI.com