The first volume of Season 4 landed on Friday and I’ve only just been able to finish the first seven episodes of the latest season of Stranger Things.
Now, before I get into the weeds of this review, I am going to try and not spoil anything for you, but there might be some small spoilers for this season, and for that, I apologise.
We’ve been waiting for what seems like an eternity for Season 4 to drop, and honestly, this was well worth the wait.
This season is set 18 months after the last, and it sees the original Hawkins crew split between Hawkins, California and Russia.
Yep, one of the big spoilers I’m going to reveal in this review is that Jim Hopper is in a Russian prison, but that was revealed at the end of Season 3.
Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 brings the horror!
There’s also a new villain in Season 4, who’s referred to by the Hawkins crew as Vecna – a character from their Dungeons and Dragons game.
This villain is easily the most formidable one they’ve faced yet, and is also by far the scariest.
I think this was the main thing that both impressed and shocked me about Strange Things Season 4.
This season is by far and away the scariest season of the show yet.
There are so many references and callbacks to 80s horror movies.
The main one is, of course, Nightmare On Elm Street.
I mean, they even got Freddie Krueger himself, Robert Englund, to guest star in one episode as Victor Creel.
However, there are some references to other horror movies such as Hellraiser, Silence Of The Lambs and even The Ring remake.
I know there are some people that don’t enjoy the show’s references to pop culture milestones of the 70s and 80s, but I enjoy it.
I also think that in Season 4, the references are actually much more suited to the story at hand.
This season owes a lot to Nightmare On Elm Street and I think The Duffer Brothers really succeeded in giving certain scenes in the show the same feel and vibe that Wes Craven achieved in his movie.
Intertwining plot lines are all converging
I would also say that Season 4 is easily the most grown-up season of the show yet.
The Hawkins gang are no longer the cute and cuddly kids from the first season.
They’ve grown up and we’ve grown up with them and you can really tell that this show is not playing around anymore.
We’re starting to get into the really serious stuff and The Upside Down has never been more threatening that it is now.
I would argue that Vecna is the most accomplished villain the show has had so far.
Not only does he look wonderfully icky and disgusting, but he’s also the perfect allegory for depression.
I do think a lot of this season is about depression and how some of the show’s characters are having to come to terms with it and try and heal.
It’s not easy to heal when you’ve got a horrific monster trying to invade your mind and destroy you from within.
That’s what Vecna does to his victims, and that’s also what depression does to people who suffer from it.
I would say that this season’s standout episode is Episode 4, which is called Chapter Four: Dear Billy.
This episode slows down a bit and really focuses on Sadie Sink’s Max, and she is just sublime in this episode.
Her performance is spectacular and I also think that the episode is really, really well written.
If there’s ever been an episode of Stranger Things that has merited at the very least an Emmy nomination, it’s Dear Billy.
Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 is Stranger Things at its very best
The Duffer Brothers and the show’s cast and crew have really outdone themselves with Season 4.
That said, that show isn’t without its flaws.
I do think there are maybe one too many subplots going on here.
I think that the whole plotline that takes place in California with Mike, Will, Jonathan and newcomer, Argyle is the least interesting.
That said, it’s all working to bring those characters back to Hawkins for Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 2.
The second part of Season 4 is going to be landing on Netflix on July 1st, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
What do you make of this review?
Did you enjoy Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 as much as I did?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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