In the new season of Stranger Things, the shadowy evil lurking in the dimension beneath our own is given a face. In fact, it’s given several familiar faces, casting this season in a light similar to Invasion of the Body Snatchers rather than The Mist. There’s something about doppelgängers in horror that is utterly non-sensical. It’s because whenever that plot device is used, it’s used in the same way as every other time it was used: Evil dresses as us because it wants to take our home for miscellaneous reasons.
In these stories, otherworldly others never mirror us internally. They never try to escape from us in the same way we try to escape from them. You will never see them try to close a portal between worlds, figure out what we are or look to the police for help. No, they are utterly sure of themselves and their idea of us and what it takes to claim that which we claim as our own. You can read into as a skewered comment on colonialism. But I tend to look at it as the writer not squeezing the melon for originality. It’s why I couldn’t watch Us. I’ve seen it before. What I hadn’t seen before were shapeshifters that acted like refugees, such as in Captain Marvel. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of that movie, the skrull shapeshifters became my favourite thing about it.
So, for the most part, I will still watch things with evil doppelgängers and try to enjoy the ride. But I will do so with this sense of the cliche whenever I do.