You don’t need us to tell you that Stranger Things is a bona fide cultural phenomenon, and now that season 4 is fully released, you might be wondering how to keep those Stranger vibes going after binging the full series to date. There’s a lot to consider when picking corollaries for Stranger Things; there are obviously a lot of horror elements, particularly in season 4, but there are also themes of nostalgia, friendship, fantasy, and even government conspiracy to consider here, too.
So, while this list of “next ups” will focus its lion’s share on films of the horror and sci-fi persuasion, there are a few options for those more inclined to lighter fare. If you’ve binged the full adventures of Eleven and the gang, here are the next films you should dive into.
We’re going to start with the obvious connection here: Spielberg and J.J. Abrams’ adolescent sci-fi adventure Super 8 is so similar to Stranger Things that there was initially some criticism and even a few murmurs of copyright infringement. While this 2011 film has more connective tissue with the first season or two of Stranger Things, we think this is a nice palate cleanser to the darker themes explored in season 4. At an hour and 51 minutes, it’s also a pretty quick watch with tons of adventure.
Swinging the other direction toward nihilism, 2007’s Stephen King adaptation The Mist brings some poignant, corrosive creature horror to bear in a much more dire way than Stranger Things. Sure, most of this film exists inside a grocery store after a mysterious mist has swept over a sleepy mountain town, but the reveal, the experimental military components, and the subsequent character decisions take The Mist in exciting, interpersonal directions. The special effects haven’t aged terribly well, and that ending is, well, rough, but if you want to double down on the creature feature ethos, this one isn’t a bad bet.
At first glance, Overlord may not seem like a logical next step for Stranger Things fans but stay with us here. This film follows a group of soldiers landing in France on the eve of D-Day, tasked with infiltrating a mysterious Nazi base — only to be met with the business end of government experiments gone wrong. The conceit obviously shares some similarities with Hopper’s Russian exploits in season 4, and even though the villains in Overlord aren’t Russian, they’re every bit as sinister.
We’re going to go “advanced horror” here and recommend a traditional haunted house-style film to layer in a few more spooks before you turn off your TV. There are a lot of direct horror comps in Stranger Things — sometimes even some homage-paying shots cribbed right from the classics — like The Exorcist, Poltergeist, and more.
Insidious is a unique choice though because, while the supernatural forces here are much more demonic, there are a lot of familiar themes. There’s an “upside down” in both films. There’s a little kid connecting with that “upside down”. And there’s even a creepy, mind-possessing big baddie with a reasonably similar creature design. The stories end up being quite a bit different, and Insidious is decidedly scarier, but if you’ve got the muster, this is a must.
We’ll end on a positive note here: Richard Donner’s 1985 nostalgic adventure The Goonies is the perfect stand-in for our central friends in Stranger Things. Every kid’s got a role to play, there’s no shortage of hormonal, romantic tension, and the older kids have the classic bully arc that made ‘80s films so loved (and/or hated). Obviously, Stranger Things is carrying all of those torches forward. The Goonies has its share of supernatural elements as well — hey you guys! — but at its core, it’s a story about a bunch of kids who have to take an adventure into their own hands and save the day.
Stranger Things season 4 is now available to stream on Netflix.
- 5 upcoming horror movies you have to see in 2023
- 5 things we want to see in Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving horror movie
- 5 things we want to see in Mike Flanagan’s The Dark Tower series
- 5 more depraved and banned horror movies to watch this Halloween
- The best horror movie kills, ranked