The first part of the fourth season of Stranger Things, one of the most popular series not only on Netflix , but also on American television in general, has appeared on the network. The bosses of the streaming service, which has recently been going downhill, had high hopes for this release – and therefore the budget of the hit show was a monstrous $ 30 million per episode. In the continuation of the Duffer Brothers project, teenage bones break mercilessly, blood flows in streams (mainly from the noses), and the plot gushes with references to the culture of the 80s and even 90s. About how the last hope of Netflix turned out – in the material “Times News“.
By the spring of 1986, the friendly group of children from the fictional town of Hawkins had split up. The Byers family moved to California with Eleven, or Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown ), who, along with Will (Noah Schnapp), tries in vain to fit into the company of fashionable and evil kids. Will’s mother Joyce ( Winona Ryder ) is too busy with a new meaningless job, and his older brother Jonathan ( Charlie Heaton ) has found harmony in the company of a new comrade Argyle (Eduardo Franco) and cannabis, which will be under the influence of almost the entire season.
All Odie’s troubles at school fade into the background when her boyfriend Mike (Finn Woolvhard) finally comes to visit. The eleventh plays before him a whole performance about a successful and eventful life, but it ends tragically – a cruel humiliation from classmates on a roller court and the subsequent surge of uncontrolled aggression. And now Odie is already sitting in a police van on the way to the juvenile correctional facility. However, it will not be possible to get to it – federal special agents will stop the cops in the desert. They take the prisoner to her old acquaintance Dr. Brenner ( Matthew Modine ), who years ago had christened Eleven by a number instead of a name. The heroine will again have to save the world, and again because of the devilry that is happening in Hawkins.
And this is what happens – one by one, teenagers begin to die in the town. The first victim is a cheerleader who came home to the odious boy Eddie (Joseph Quinn, who plays a cross between Daniel from Hooligans and Nerds and John Bender from the Breakfast Club) for ketamine – unknown forces suddenly lift the girl into the air and grind her all bones. Eddie, rightly convinced that the police won’t believe him, goes on the run. To help him, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), who became friends with the freak, and the company take it – the teenagers find out that another monster from the “Inside Out” named Vecna is to blame. Of course, much more dangerous than all the previous opponents of the heroes combined.
But not only Hawkins’ teenagers need to be saved in the new season – Joyce is sent by mail from Russia a porcelain doll, inside which she finds a note demanding a ransom. So the path of the heroine lies on the cold snowy Kamchatka, where the captive sheriff Jim Hopper ( David Harbor ) is building a railway for the Soviet government.
Such an abundance of parallel storylines is quite understandable, because in three seasons “Very strange things” managed to acquire more than a dozen bright, dissimilar characters, which the Duffers are clearly not in a hurry to part with – and now new heroes have arrived. As with the previous installment, the showrunners divide the wide cast into groups with (in their eyes) the best chemistry and throw the unfortunates on a slew of adventures inspired by 1980s and, in some cases, 1990s classics. Here Jonathan and Mark are shaking in the van, clutching the wound of the bleeding fed like characters from Reservoir Dogs. Here is the conspiracy theorist Murray ( Brett Gelman ) as a real Rambo arranges a karate duel in a plane flying over the snowy taiga. Here’s Nancy Wheeler ( Natalia Dyer )) ends up in the lair of either Vecna or Pinhead from Hellraiser.
And at first, such a separation refreshes the action – viewers from sunny California are thrown straight to Kamchatka or Alaska , and from Hawkins, saturated with hysterical darkness, into an even more frightening “Inside Out”. However, it quickly becomes obvious which storylines are key for the new season, and which ones only dilute the action with comedy – and as a result, it becomes not so interesting to follow the latter. No less sad are the characters who, having made their important contribution to the development of the plot, become silent companions of other, brighter characters, occasionally throwing a couple of phrases into their dialogues.
It seems that for the second season in a row, Stranger Things is trying to survive solely at the expense of its beloved characters. In some cases, this bet still turns out to be winning.
Severe Hopper, with all the cranberry of a Soviet prison, looks like a real American stoic superhero in its scenery, no less delighted is the incomparable Max (Sadie Sink), who turned out to be face-to-face with the main antagonist (the scene with the heroine, thanks to which Kate Bush ‘s song Running Up That Hill has skyrocketed on the charts and is the crown jewel of the season.) Time markers have also returned – if last season the inhabitants of Hawkins lived in paranoia from the “red threat”, now the city is hysterical about satanic cults (whose adherents are, of course, young fans of heavy metal and “Dragons and Dungeons”) and maniacs . The last fear, however, is quite justified, because Vecna is just the same infernal serial killer – in fact, representing the embodiment of Freddy Krueger.
It is “A Nightmare on Elm Street” that becomes the Duffers’ main source of inspiration for the central storyline – even Robert Englund , who played Freddy Krueger in all eight films of the franchise, found a place in the new season. For the series, such homages are familiar – in the first parts, the Duffers took Spielberg’s “Alien” and “The X-Files” as the basis. In their project, the government conspiracy and the atmosphere of total distrust of the authorities also became the background for the main characters’ deeper fears of the coming changes of adolescence. Only now, these changes have bypassed the heroes of “Very strange things” for many seasons, although almost all of them, it seems, have long gone through prepuberty. And it becomes especially obvious just the same thanks to A Nightmare on Elm Street.
As in previous seasons of Stranger Things, the monster brought over from cult horror is metaphorical here. Vecna’s victims are exclusively depressed teenagers, and without the participation of the villain, they torment themselves with guilt due to various tragic events of the past. That is, we are talking here, apparently, about teenage suicide – even the attention of friends and favorite music help to overcome the spell of the villain.
Taking a Nightmare on Elm Street as a basis, the Duffers, with the help of the figure of an infernal serial killer of teenagers, play in several planes at once. On the one hand, they place the characters in the nostalgic scenery of the cult horrors of the last century. On the other hand, they bring much more modern problems to the fore. The catch is that the franchise that the showrunners took as a basis this time around – albeit in a largely accidental way, but still – was much more daring and provocative in the metaphorical depiction of a teenage angst, strongly associated with puberty. Suffice it to recall the cult scenes with a clawed glove in the bathroom, a spanking in the shower, a tongue coming out of the pipe, for all the absurdity, they carried a much deeper semantic and emotional load than any hallucinations of teenagers from Hawkins, as if frozen in a static state of eternal children. In turn, Eleventh’s encounter with her violent classmates is imbued with the spirit of “Kerry” – but even here, in comparison with the original Duffer show, it looks like a censored and castrated version of horrorBrian De Palma .
In a word, the fourth season is hardly structurally different from the previous ones – all the same homages, the same metaphorical monsters and the same relational questions driven around in a new circle. The scenery changes, the characters shuffle among themselves, but the new season (with the exception of rare really strong moments) seems to be largely secondary to the series itself, and not just horror films about a burnt monster from dreams. The Duffers are trying to follow the same strategy that made the first seasons of Stranger Things an international hit, but they categorically prevent their characters from growing up – perhaps out of parental feelings, but more, of course, out of a desire to pull Netflix’s most successful franchise about schoolchildren as as long as possible.
You can watch the first part of the fourth season of Stranger Things on Netflix. The release of the second part, consisting of two episodes, is scheduled for July 1
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