directors Matt and Ross Duffer
If you had heard of Hidden or Matt and Ross (the Duffer brothers) before Stranger Things became the hit phenom of 2016, you were up on most people. Before the Hughes brothers and the Wachowski siblings, brother co-filmmaker teams didn’t necessarily refer to themselves as such (e.g. The Coens). When I first saw their credit on Stranger Things, I was like “Who?”
Who are these dudes? I never heard of them. What did they have to their credit that earned them their hit show?
All I could find was Hidden.
Hidden is a low-budget sci-fi thriller of confined spaces. A family of three is hiding out in a bomb shelter from ones they call the “breathers”. And as the story moves forward and flashes back, we get a glimpse of the before and after of some outbreak that has trapped them in their town.
The Duffers, like Steven Spielberg (one of their many inspirations and touchstones), they are good at casting and directing children. In the family in Hidden, it’s Emily Alyn Lind, alongside mom (Andrea Riseborough) and pop (Alexander Skarsgård) make for a good core group of characters. And with twists of the supernatural or merely science fictional, they craft a pretty good little flick out of it.
As in Stranger Things, the Duffers strive to pull some heartstrings, evoking Spielberg to an extent again with some sentimentality verging on schmaltz. And the flimsiness of the story could be poked apart with merest probing.
There’s no retro 1980’s going on here, the most prominent aspect of Stranger Things. And that’s good. It’ll be interesting to see if they can develop their work further and how much more they have in their creative tank.