Stranger Things is famously rooted in '80s nostalgia, but for the season 2 monster, it took inspiration from even further back: early 1900s writer H.P. Lovecraft. The author wasn't widely recognized during his prime, but after his death in 1937, he achieved posthumous acclaim for his work in horror fiction — something Stranger Things knows well. Now, Lovecraft is regarded as one of the most celebrated 20th century writers in the genre, most notably for works like The Call of Cthulhu and The Shadow over Innsmouth.
Stranger Things season 1 drew from Steven Spielberg's Jaws, depicting a blood-thirsty eating machine that emerges from the depths of another realm — like a shark from the ocean — and wreaks havoc on a small, unsuspecting town. In season 2, the threat will broaden to the "shadow monster," a massive creature that appears to Will in a PTSD-like vision as he struggles to move past his time in the Upside Down and adjust back to the real world. That's where Lovecraft comes in.
As series creators the Duffer brothers explained during a recent interview with EW, the demogorgon was menacing but immediate. The kids were scared, but Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) was at least somewhat familiar with the monster, and its intentions were clear: to kill. This time around, however, things will be more vague. As Ross told the outlet:
“I think the difference is you don’t really see how it’s all tied together until later. But it’s all connected to this singular threat which is tied into this shape that Will sees in the sky. Will is the way through which we’re able to understand what’s going on."
"There’s an H.P. Lovecraft sort of approach, this inter-dimensional being that is sort of beyond human comprehension. We purposely don’t want to go too much into what it is or what it wants.”
Lovecraft's stories also focused on otherworldly, almost mythical creatures: deformed, fish-like humanoids; monstrous, cult-worshipped idols. Often, merely knowing about these beings could drive his characters insane, similar to the way Will (Noah Schnapp) seems to be plagued by the shadow monster. Somehow, this sky-dwelling beast ties everything together, but the "how" and "why" won't be revealed until the season's end, with each episode further pulling back the curtain.
It's a smart approach. Season 1 was a runaway hit, and anticipation is high. The show's next outing will need to step it up, but from the sounds of it, season 2 will certainly deliver.
Stranger Things season 2 premieres Friday, October 27th on Netflix.