The Stranger Things kids all standing together

‘Stranger Things 4’ Is an ’80s Horror Movie Come to Hawkins

5/5 creepy clocks.

Stranger Things is back in a huge way, and season 4 does not disappoint. Heading into season 4, series creators the Duffer Brothers had made it pretty clear that things were shifting as the younger cast grew up. Before, characters like Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) were reminiscent of movies like The Goonies, with the teens like Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Steve (Joe Keery) in their own ’80s horror movie.

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Now that the younger kids are fifteen years old, gone are the days of playing Dungeons & Dragons in the basement and going on quests, and now we’re full into horror, and it is amazing. Season 4 takes us to three places: California, Russia, and Hawkins. The last we saw of our favorite characters, the Byerses were leaving Hawkins to start a new life in California with Eleven after Hopper’s death.

So, let’s get into a bit of what happens with season 4 volume 1 of Stranger Things and why, to me, it’s a perfect next step for the series.

**Slight spoilers for season 4 volume 1 of Stranger Things lie ahead.**

The cast of Stranger Things 3

When I say that season 4 is horror, I mean it. Within the first episode, a girl is haunted by her own insecurities and trauma and something happens that results in Eddie (Joseph Quinn) being blamed for her something he didn’t do despite those behind Hawkins Lab being called in to investigate.

What’s happening in Hawkins

The dead body, of course, spurs student journalist Nancy Wheeler to pursue the story since her boyfriend, Jonathan, never came back to Hawkins to see her. The season, for the most part, is split between Nancy, Robin, and Steve leading a crew exploring the Creel family murders and their connection to what’s happening in Hawkins now.

It’s such an adventure/horror movie, mixed with Steve Harrington trying to work on himself and his relationships with Robin and, later, Nancy, which makes this season an amazing one for fans of Steve (you know, me). But their story is so horror-esque that there are moments that are genuinely scary, especially for characters like Max and Lucas, who are dealing with their own relationship problems and also trying to figure out how they fit together.

Meanwhile, Eleven, Will, and Mike are in California and dealing with Eleven having to find her powers again.

What’s happening in California

Mike goes to California to see his girlfriend Eleven, and it’s clear that Will is upset that Mike probably wouldn’t have come to visit if it weren’t for Eleven. But while Mike is there, Eleven gets in trouble and is brought back to Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser) to figure out how she can become a “superhero” again.

The California portion of the show isn’t as horror focused, and there are moments where it’s just generally fun, but it’s a bit more emotionally driven than what’s happening in Hawkins—not to say the Hawkins storyline isn’t emotional. It is, especially with Max’s storyline, but Eleven trying to find her own place and dealing with Mike and Will figuring out their own friendship is just more focused on that aspect. All while Joyce isn’t there because she found out that Hopper is still alive.

What’s happening in Russia

The other portion of the season is with Hopper in prison in Russia. He’s found an ally in one of the guards, and they’re trying to help him escape. Meanwhile, Joyce is in California and dealing with a mysterious package that brings Murray to her door and the kids unaware of what’s going on with Joyce.

Overall thoughts

For me, this is a perfect followup to season 3 and a great continuation of the story. For a while, it just felt like every season of Stranger Things was wrapping things up nicely, so I thought, “Why come back?” but after season 3, I had more questions, and this season continues to explore them without fully giving us all the answers we crave.

It’s a great new twist to the show we love, and it lets us explore the new places with these characters. It’s incredible, and now I cannot wait to see the rest of the season with volume 2.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.