Scenery, characters, mythology… Everything is increased tenfold this year at Hawkins. The great Netflix series changes dimension and abandons the nostalgic kiff of its beginnings to turn into a huge fantastic blockbuster.
As if to warn fans ahead of the release, Netflix revealed these days the unlikely duration of Season 4 episodes of Stranger Things. An XXL duration. Almost never seen on television: Volume 1, which will be put online this Friday, May 27, spans 540 minutes, or almost 9 hours, for only 7 episodes! Volume 2 – which will be released on July 1st – will last almost 4 hours, divided into 2 episodes (including the giant grand finale of 2h20…). Yes, almost 80 minutes on average per episode, it’s long! And your reaction to this quick introductory reckoning will say a lot about your appreciation of Season 4 in general: either you’re looking forward to an extended trip to Hawkins, or you’re already wary, even before heading back to the 1980s. .
Why so long, you ask me? The answer can be summed up in one word: fragmentation! On the heels of the Season 3 finale, which saw the Byers (with Eleven now Joyce’s adopted daughter) relocate to California, the whole story of Stranger Things is now fragmented, divided between multiple places, multiple plots. First, we head to the West Coast, where little El-turned-Jane tries to adjust to normal high school life. She has lost her powers, she is being harassed, she misses Mike, but she can count on Joyce (Winona Ryder), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and Will (Noah Schnapp), who surround her on a daily basis. In Hawkins, Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) are sophomores and club members. Dungeons and Dragons, led by the charismatic Eddie (Joseph Quinn). Their buddy Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) has joined the basketball team and is now one of the cool people in school. Max (Sadie Sink), she has left the group, after the brutal death of her brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) from which she cannot recover. Nancy (Natalia Dyer) spends all her time at the high school newspaper, while her long-distance relationship with Jonathan falters. Steve (Joe Keery) hits on anything that moves with his new BFF Robin (Maya Hawke). And a few thousand kilometers away, in the USSR, Hopper (David Harbour) is being tortured in a secret camp…
Yes, there are crowds in Stranger Things. The gallery of characters never stops expanding and this weighs inexorably on the story, forced to cut itself into four to make room for everyone. The season juggles from one plot to another and does not gain pace. Excessively watered down, some even tend to run out of steam. The Hopper mission, for example, quickly turns in circles. The California trip becomes tedious as well, as the jokes about Jonathan smoking weed are repeated. Nothing prohibitive, but a few heavinesses which make us realize that Hawkins is indeed the place of Stranger Things !
Because when she returns to Indiana, the Netflix series regains its luster. This is where she dares, where she innovates, where she enchants. That his mythology becomes more complex, more exciting, through his passages in the Upside Down and some very intense flashbacks in Dr. Brenner’s lab…
Sweetly frightening in her younger years, Stranger Things has matured with its characters and drastically pushes the horror slider in season 4, not hesitating to pour, in sequence, in the bloody gore that makes you squint. The new monster, “Vecna”, is a total success. Terrifying, powerful, exciting, it replays the Elm Street Nightmare with delight (Robert Englund alias Freddy Krueger in person, even passes a head). Yes, the change of mood is scathing. Stranger Things grew up. His kids are no longer kids, but teenagers full of hormones, perfect victims for Horror Movies. So no more references to stand-by-me and to Goonies ! Season 4 fully embraces the themes of the best of 80s horror, to sign a chapter that does not hesitate to turn into the sinister when necessary, while always having in mind to give us great chills.
In this chilling, exhilarating context, Steve, Nancy, Robin, Max, Dustin and Lucas become the true heroes of Stranger Things… Waiting for the reunion with the rest of the band. Waiting for the final fight against the “Mind Flayer” and the Upside Down. Because if the series has evolved, it is also to better shape the end. Preparing the ground for the final season 5 already announced. Spread the word, Stranger Things is no longer that little pastiche kiff of 80’s Amblin adventure films. The tribute show has successfully metamorphosed into a great adult fantasy drama.