Stranger Things isn’t shy of sharing its influences, but it seems that creators Ross and Matt Duffer are now facing a lawsuit which claims that the show is derived from a short film whose creator claims he pitched that project to the brothers in 2014.
Charlie Kessler, the director behind the 2012 award-winning short film, Montauk, has filed a suit which claims that his film provided the inspiration for Stranger Things – and that he even pitched the Duffer brothers the idea at a Tribeca Film Festival party.
Kessler’s Montauk features many Stranger Things parallels, including a young boy who disappears, a cop with a troubled past on his trail, experiments on children, a monster from another dimension, and a conspiracy from a nearby military base.
While these coincidences might be easy enough to explain away, things get a bit more complicated when you hear that the Duffers originally sold Stranger Things to Netflix under the title of Montauk, setting the story in the real-life place – though this was subsequently changed to the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.
However, to the brothers’ credit, Montauk has long been the subject of conspiracies surrounding government experimentation, so this doesn’t necessarily mean that their idea was derived from anyone else’s work.
The Duffers responded to the claim today, through their attorney, Alex Kohner, who said in a statement: “Mr. Kessler’s claim is completely meritless. He had no connection to the creation or development of Stranger Things. The Duffer Brothers have neither seen Mr. Kessler’s short film nor discussed any project with him. This is just an attempt to profit from other people’s creativity and hard work.”
Whatever the result of this lawsuit, it does call into question what the future will hold for Stranger Things. Netflix has refused to comment on the allegations, but with this being the second controversy for the Duffers in as many months, the series may find itself on rocky ground.