Still riding high on its 12 Emmy nominations last week, Netflix has released the highly-anticipated first teaser for season three of Stranger Things, complete with mega 1980s location and a new cast member.
The 86-second clip lacks obvious menace but is thick with latent creepiness, especially if you lived through the real thing: water fountains, food courts and white o’er the calf socks with coloured hoops.
Filmed in fake nostalgic style, it’s an upbeat commercial for the new attraction in the fictional Indiana hamlet of Hawkins: the Starcourt Mall.
Via a pastel montage of American retro shopping centre culture references – The Gap! Wicks ‘N’ Sticks! – the teaser has fans clamouring for clues as to what the season might hold.
The Starcourt Mall, is “one of the finest facilities in America and beyond”, says the cheesy voiceover, where “teenagers can come together to shop, hang, out, dine and enjoy”.
The focus on Starcourt Mall has fans wondering what exactly Stranger Things is throwing into the mix.
It “suggests a new corporate menace” could be coming to the town which has “already been rocked by the activity at the mysterious Hawkins National Laboratory,” reported Variety when the teaser dropped.
It could also be a reference to Dawn of the Dead, the 1978 George A Romero zombie classic that takes place almost entirely within a shopping centre.
The clip gives fans the first look at Steve (Joe Keery) at his part-time job, with new cast member Maya Hawke, daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke.
The pair is shown side-by-side in nautical themed uniforms at the mall’s ice cream parlour Scoops Ahoy, looking and sounding like they’re suffering brain freeze.
“Ahoy!” they exclaim, uncomfortably, in unison.
Hawke, who made her TV debut as Jo March in the 2017 BBC adaptation of Little Women, plays a character called Robin.
Netflix described Robin as an “alternative girl” whose boredom “with her mundane day job” leads her to get “more than she bargained for when she uncovers a dark secret in Hawkins”.
Producer Shawn Levy claimed fan favourite Steve would have a bigger role in season three, and his presence at Scoops Ahoy might be a signpost that he’s not leaving town for college.
The clip has visual references which place it in 1984, including shop window displays featuring Tom Clancy’s debut novel The Hunt for Red October and Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA.
Things that were popular that year: Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Like A Virgin by Madonna, Purple Rain by Prince and Ghostbusters.
The teaser ends with the promise “Coming next summer!”
Fans are seeing it not only as a nod to the season’s summer setting – a first– but an early hint that Stranger Things won’t be back this year.
That was suggested last December by David Harbour (Hopper), who told Variety, “You probably won’t get [season three] until sometime in 2019.”
The cast and crew, he added, “need time”.