Stranger Things Series 4 Review. FutureUniverseTV Presents A Supernatural Horror Story That Captures Your Heart.
This review of “Stranger Things 4” Volume 1 does not contain any spoilers. “Stranger Things” season three ended two years ago, but Hawkins’ Battle of Starcourt happened six months ago. Whenever we see our favorite Hawkins residents again, we feel the passage of time. There are a lot of them now all over the world. Consequently, the season is split into two volumes and the episodes are super-sized.
Despite “Stranger Things 4” Volume I embracing horror harder than ever, it struggles with its sheer scope and ambition. The fourth season of Stranger Things juggles multiple locations and storylines at once. Hawkins High School Dungeons & Dragons club leader Eddie Munson’s (Joseph Quinn) Hellfire Club welcomes Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). As Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) tries to assimilate with the popular jocks on the basketball team, he desperately tries to maintain his childhood friendships and interests.
The events at Starcourt mall have upended Max’s family life, so she has retreated socially. Across the country, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) have to deal with high school. Charlie Heaton’s Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) smokes pot with new friend Argyle (Eduardo Franco) to escape relationship anxiety with Nancy (Natalia Dyer).
There’s also Hopper (David Harbour), trapped in a Russian jail. From high school bullying to peer pressure to Satanic Panic paranoia gripping a town to even top secret rescue missions requiring espionage, each location tackles different topics and themes. The cast of “Stranger Things” has grown a lot since season one, and this season is dedicated to giving everyone a full storyline. Newcomer Quinn injects infectious energy as he plunges into Hawkins’ latest nightmare.
While that’s good news, it means that some will fade into the background for long stretches because of how it juggles the expansive story threads. The story and history in Stranger Things 4 are so dense that it’s hard to binge. There’s a maturity thread running through all the stories. There’s something about how high schoolers are struggling with identity as they get older. Their reflections on relationships and loneliness are where it’s at.
And it’s especially in the way past traumas can no longer be buried or overlooked; healing requires hard, painful work, and in many cases, it’s the only way forward. Fans of the show will get a lot of surprises this season, thanks to the past. As they mature, the Upside Down brings more cunning threats, like the sophisticated and ruthless Vecna.
Through Vecna, A Nightmare on Elm Street’s central influence is woven throughout the season. From his first target to his tactics, Vecna’s almost too similar to Freddy Krueger’s. For horror fans, it means they’ll probably figure out Vecna’s motivations before the story reveals them. The series makes the most of its source inspiration in Volume I with Freddy Krueger Easter eggs, ominous boiler rooms, and Robert Englund.
While this season’s darker, more horror-forward approach is engaging, it struggles with stakes. Even though peripheral characters and the overarching war have pretty high stakes, the story doesn’t create any real suspense whenever its central characters are in danger. Several prominent heroes have ticking clocks that don’t seem as urgent as they should; we don’t buy that death is really an option. The Upside Down battles over four seasons make it easy to recognize the familiar patterns of battle wins and narrow misses.
Our deep attachment to these characters makes it easier to overlook some of the more perilous sequences’ lack of tension, even if the ambitious scale puts a strain on the season. The fact that our protagonist doesn’t really face any real danger offsets the fact that we’re rooting for them anyway. When the supernatural mysteries click into place, the characters come together near the end when the big picture is revealed.
When all the plot lines come together, our plucky heroes are at their best. It’s hard to gauge Stranger Things 4 Volume I as a whole because its characters are splintered into more factions than ever. The show’s fourth season zooms through thrilling set pieces and wildly different story lines at a rapid enough clip to keep you interested and invested, even as its ever-growing mythology and repeating patterns begin to weigh on your mind. May 27, 2022 is the release date for “Stranger Things 4” Volume I.
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