Stranger Things is everyone’s favourite sci-fi Netflix show, ain’t it? A truly original ‘80s-set spook-fest unlike anything that has come before it.
I mean, regardless of its fondness for referencing retro movies, its creators have also been hit with a naughty little lawsuit, claiming they ripped the whole thing off. Indie filmmaker Charlie Kessler made a little short film called Montauk back in 2012, and he reckons that the Duffer bros done stolen his idea.
The lawsuit is pretty convincing though - back in 2014 at a party at the Tribeca Film Festival, Kessler pitched an idea for a TV show based on his film to the Duffers, and then later “presented materials” from their representatives involving the proposed project.
Then - and here’s the clincher - a short year later, the Duffers sold Stranger Things to Netflix, but back then it held the provisional title of, yep, Montauk.
The show and the original film share obvious similarities, too - Montauk focused on a boy who goes missing and the cop on his tail; add to that a secretive military base experimenting on children and things start to slot into place. Or more specifically, it was based on the (allegedly) true-life Montauk Project, which was a supposed series of sneaky government experiments taking place at Montauk Air Force Station.
And oh, guess what? Stranger Things was originally set in Montauk, too. It’s all there, and it’s all rather plausible. Of course, the Duffers could simply claim they based their series on the same conspiracy theory - nobody has copyright on the public domain - but it might be a tough sell.
There’s no word on whether this will go to trial yet, but considering the evidence, I think we should at least hear Kessler out - this doesn’t look to have come from nowhere. Either way, neither Netflix nor the Duffers have publicly responded.
I’m sure they’ve privately responded - I can imagine at least one of them said “Shit” in their kitchen or something, but we’ll have to wait for an official press release.