The classic '80s films produced by Amblin Entertainment that served as the inspiration for the Netflix series Stranger Things were replete with creatures both lovable and terrifying — sometimes at the same time: homesick aliens with light-up fingers, cuddly pets that turn into ferocious imps, malformed but softhearted giants, misunderstood sasquatches… Compared to most of those critters, the monster in Stranger Things is the stuff of nightmares, having more in common with the marauding alien from a more recent Amblin film, J.J. Abrams' Super 8. Is the Stranger Things monster an alien as well?
The answer isn't as simple as it might seem, since the eight-episode freshman season of the sci-fi series didn't solve every lingering mystery. But here's what we do know about the monster so far: it hails from a different dimension (the boys refer to it as "The Vale Of Shadows" after a fictional realm from their favorite game, Dungeons & Dragons, but Eleven calls it "The Upside Down"); it's a humanoid creature with a flower-like head that blossoms open into four distinct "petals"; it drags its victims into the Upside Down through portals, where it feeds on them; and either it or its victims are somehow able to communicate with our world through the manipulation of electricity.
Given that we've only seen the first season of this new show, co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer (Wayward Pines) "don't want to reveal much," but they did tell Entertainment Weekly that the monster "is an interdimensional being that has more in common with the shark from Jaws than Pennywise from It. When the monster enters our dimension, it’s like a shark breaching the water. Very much like a shark, it drags its prey back into its home, where it feeds. Each time it enters our world, it leaves a small tear, or wound," the brothers explained. "These tears are almost like portholes into the Upside Down. But they don’t last very long. Like wounds, they eventually heal and seal up."
So is the monster an alien or not? Although there's still plenty to be explored about the origins of the creature, I think it's pretty clear that it's not a quote-unquote "alien" in the traditional sense that it arrived on Earth from a faraway planet or galaxy. Rather, it's from a dimension totally separate (but parallel) to our own, and travels not via Unidentified Flying Object, but rather through tears in the fabric of reality.
But I suppose there's certainly an argument to be made that the Stranger Things monster is an "extra-terrestrial," in the literal sense that it is not of this earth.
The answer to the true nature of the monster likely lies somewhere in the "30-page document [about the Upside Down] that is pretty intricate in terms of what it all means, and where this monster actually came from, and why aren’t there more monsters," as the Duffer Brothers revealed to Variety. "We have all this stuff that we just didn’t have time for, or we didn’t feel like we needed to get into in season one, because of the main tension of Will. We have that whole other world that we haven’t fully explored in this season, and that was very purposeful."
Hopefully Netflix will make the right decision and renew Stranger Things for Season 2 so we can get all of our burning questions answered about the monster, the Upside Down, and whatever is happening to Will in the Season 1 finale.
Images: Courtesy of Netflix (3)