In 2016 Netflix released the first season of Stranger Things, and in a matter of a weekend, the tale of Eleven and the town of Hawkins became part of pop culture forever. The show became the first Netflix original series to go beyond simple entertainment and went into becoming a phenomenon around the world. There is simply no other show like Stranger Things, and with this new season, Netflix proves that it has what it takes to compete in the space of prestige television.
Stranger Things ignited the career of Millie Bobby Brown, the fierce and naive protagonist of the show. It almost made each cast member someone that was more than just a character on screen, with characters like Steve, and Hopper becoming fan favorites. It even brought Winona Ryder back on the stage after being gone for so long. Stranger Things really is Netflix’s flagship television series and with season 4 the show comes back with a vengeance after having been gone for quite a while since season 3.
Stranger Things is a show created by The Duffer Brothers and stars Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Sadie Sink, and Noah Schnapp. In this fourth season, the Hawkins crew needs to face the obstacles of growing up, as their lives appear to be aimed in different directions. Meanwhile, a new menace coming from the Upside Down is ready to threaten the world.
Season 4 of Stranger Things really is the peak of fiction storytelling on television. A lot has been talked about the series’ budget, for example. More than 300 million dollars have been spent on this season alone, and you can see every penny on screen. The show’s production values are just incredibly high. And to accompany those fantastic visuals, The Duffer Brothers and their collaborators have also stepped up when it comes to delivering a powerful horror story that brings forth all the elements we love from the show.
They really don’t make them like this anymore. This season is breaking every rule in the book when it comes to the television format. Netflix is not only spending quite a bit of money on the show. But the flexibility of the streaming service distribution allows each episode to feel like a movie. The episode’s running times are an average of an hour and fifteen minutes, while the last episode of this volume clocks at an hour and a half. Stranger Things is really a juggernaut, and it is proud of it.
In this opportunity, The Duffer Brothers share directorial responsibilities with the already regular director, Shawn Levy, and with newcomer Nimród Antal. The three directorial units are needed in order to create the massive narrative tapestry that the season tries to execute. For the most part, the three directorial units are successful in creating a story that feels urgent, massive, emotional, and exciting. The pace is amazing, and there is always something happening on screen. This season really knows how to make us binge-watch, even when the episodes are longer than usual.
The directors use every trick in the book to elevate the show into something that feels more cinematic than any other show this year. The Duffer Brothers have always considered each season of the show to be a long movie, and season 4 is the prime example of that. Where other shows are happy with just rolling the camera and aiming it at the actors, Stranger Things is always looking for new ways to make even the simplest of subjects look good and compelling on screen.
The direction is also helped by some impressive visual effects. Many shows have a rough time matching the visual effects quality of high budget films, but Stranger Things season 4 does with ease, as they create new terrifying ways to die, and new horrible creatures to run from. Vecna, the villain of the show that can be seen looming over the characters in the posters, is a fantastic piece of practical and CGI effects combined, making for the best villain in the show to date.
The acting is also quite solid. The kids, who really grew up into young adults, have already proven that they are quite capable of delivering when it comes to emotional acting, and in this season it is no different. Each character goes on a separate journey, and they have to go through different situations which make them react in different ways. There is a bit of everything being asked from the actors this season, but they all pull it off.
The story itself is quite amazing, it is a story of finding who you really are in the midst of a truly terrifying situation. Eleven, for example, is in a really awful place after the disappearance of Hopper and being separated from Mike at the end of season 3. In this season, the character deals with bullying and other horrible situations and Brown makes it look so real, that you really feel for her at every step. Especially because you know she’s not a regular girl at all.
Sadie Sink is another standout this season, as Max develops into one of the most complex characters in the show. Her journey from being traumatized at the end of season 3 by the death of her brother to how she develops in this season is really compelling. And Sink sells every facet of her character every time she is on-screen.
The longer running time for each episode means that there is really no need to rush everything. The result is that every storyline and character has the chance to breathe, and by the time episode 7 comes, it feels like none of the storylines were forgotten or remain incomplete. Of course, this first batch of seven episodes is not the end of Season 4, with the last two episodes coming five weeks from now, on July 1st, 2022.
Strange Things, season 4 is everything you really want about spectacle television. Every single department from writing, direction, acting, and VFX are working at the top of their game. There is still a fifth season coming, and after watching these seven episodes of Season 4 it is really hard to think how they will top it. We don’t know how, but we are really excited to see it.