Stranger Things 4 is finally here! And it was absolutely worth the wait. It has been a long time coming, and the wait between Season 3 and 4 has not been easy but Stranger Things has absolutely delivered. It is arguably the best season since season 1. This season sees the gang separated across the globe as they deal with the returning threat of the Upside Down. Specifically, the threat comes in the form of the new dangerous Vecna. Without further ado, let’s jump into the review.
Probably, the only thing I really disliked this season was how the show handled Will. I feel like the writers have not really known what to do with Will since the end of season 1. Unfortunately, that trend continues this season. He is relegated mostly to the background and minor character. That said, I do like quite a few moments he and Mike share together throughout the episodes. Hopefully, in Vol. 2 he can get some solid moments and get a chance to really shine.
Next, let’s address the runtimes. I, and a lot of other people, were naturally concerned about the runtimes for this season. Especially since all the episodes are over an hour in length. But worry not, the run times are absolutely justified. With how many storylines are happening this season and how spread out the characters are it absolutely makes sense why the episodes are so long. Each episode does a good job of focusing and balancing time between the various characters. Better yet, the episodes never felt too long. They were so well-paced and constantly kept me engaged the whole time and it does feel like anytime is wasted or unnecessary.
I love Vecna. Vecna is easily the best villain the series has had so far. The other villains such as the Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer were scary because they were big monsters that looked horrific. However, Vecna brings a different flavor of horror to the series. Vecna preys on the trauma of his victims. He causes them to relive past traumatic experiences before he kills them. He seems to feed on their fear somehow. As a big fan of classic psychological horror stories, like The Haunting of Hill House, I was super happy to see the show incorporate that type of horror this season. Not to mention, Vecna also looks terrifying much like the Demogorgon and Mind Flayer. And of course, Vecna’s back story is really good and I really enjoyed the reveal and how it tied the various elements of the season together.
Episode 4, titled Dear Billy, might be one of my favorite episodes of all time. It is just so good and I have not been able to stop thinking about it. The main focus on Max and her trauma with Vecna is incredible. Max gets some really incredible moments with the rest of the main cast. And a great moment with her mom that works super well. Even though her mother has not really been present in the series before, the moment is well written and both actors do a great job. Finally, the last 15-10 minutes of this episode are just beautiful. From Max reading her letter at Billy’s Grave to her escape from the Upside Down was all amazing and the use of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill was just exceptional. I was moved to tears by the end of the episode. Of course, the whole season is full of fantastic episodes, but Dear Billy is easily the standout.
The show has always had really good visuals but I feel this season especially looks great. All the effects are well done and there’s just some really cool shots and transition throughout the episodes. In particular, I enjoyed a lot of the transitions in Episode 7 (appropriately titled The Massacre At Hawkins Lab).
Stranger Things 4 Vol 1 sticks to the formula of the show but it does it very well. The episodes are all engaging and never overstay their welcome. The new villain is refreshing change of pace and adds new flavor of horror to the show. Overall, the show is firing on all cylinders and is the best it has been in years. What did you think of the show? Let us know by mentioning @ReviewedCinema on Twitter and don’t miss Stranger Things 4 Vol. 1 streaming on Netflix now.