Reel Thoughts: ‘Stranger Things’ Season Four: An even darker twist on the horror series


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

“Stranger Things” released Volume 2 of Season Four this past Friday, following a monthlong wait for the final two episodes.

Selena Kuznikov, Reporter

Chrissy, wake up babes. Volume 2 just dropped.

Close to three years after Season Three’s release, Volumes 1 and 2 of Season Four of “Stranger Things” were released on May 27 and July 1, respectively. Production began in January 2020 but was ultimately postponed until September 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The penultimate season of the show does an astounding job of grounding the characters with one underlying storyline, despite most of the original group not being in the same physical place throughout the season.

Season Four kicks off with the Hawkins group starting high school. While characters like Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Max (Sadie Sink) are still in Indiana, the Byers family and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) have moved out to California.

New characters like Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) and Argyle (Eduardo Franco) bring a breath of fresh air for what feels like a reinvention of the show. Following less than stellar reviews of the previous season, the show’s writers stepped up their game this season, flawlessly tying together different plot lines from earlier seasons.

While hits like “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash and “Every Breath You Take” by The Police defined and brought earlier seasons to life, the soundtrack of Season Four is especially critical to the season’s plot because it allows characters to escape the control of the main antagonist, Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower).

 Kate Bush’s song “Running Up That Hill” has reportedly earned about $2.3 million in streaming royalties in the monthlong period since Volume 1 was released alone. 

Although I found earlier seasons of the show more jarring because of the classic horror aspects combined with how young the cast was, a gorier and darker plot fueled this season’s scare factor. Despite the cast’s more mature look, the increase in gore this season allowed for the same haunting feeling from that very first season. 

Series creators Matt and Ross Duffer said they drew inspiration from different 1970s and 1980s horror movies like “Jaws” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”  References like Vecna putting his victims into a trance-like state a la Freddy Krueger, accompanied by the synth-full music prevalent throughout the season, made the series feel that much more grounded in the 80s.

Although both volumes explained more about Will’s (Noah Schnapp) disappearance in Season One and expanded the underlying themes on the Soviet Union and Russia’s involvement in the Upside Down from Season Three, this season left me with a lot more questions than I came into it with. What will Eleven’s role be in the final showdown of next season? Will a different antagonist be introduced? The Duffer brothers left viewers on a cliffhanger and it felt like a lot of threads were left untied. 

The season finale features a run time of about two hours and 20 minutes, the longest in the series thus far. While Volume 1 of the season furthered the plot line and provided a lot of explanation to the strange occurrences in past seasons, the last episode could have been split into two to allow for more questions to be answered.

This February, Netflix renewed the show for a fifth and final season. According to Variety, ‘Stranger Things’ Season Four has dethroned Season Two of “Bridgerton” as Netflix’s top English-language TV season. While hopefully viewers won’t have to wait another three years for a new and final season, I’m still waiting on the edge of my seat after binge-watching Volumes 1 and 2 immediately after their release. 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @selenakuznikov 

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