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Stranger, darker revelations from Stranger Things Season 4 virtual set tour

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Stranger, darker revelations from Stranger Things Season 4 virtual set tour
From left: Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfi eld, Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, and Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair in a tense scene from Netfl lix’s Stranger Things Season 4.
Netflix

Stranger, darker and bigger than it’s ever been. That’s how the showrunners — Ross and Matt Duffer — described the fourth and latest season of Netflix’s megahit Stranger Things.

The ‘80s nostalgia-themed, sci-fi thriller features Eleven, a girl with telekinetic powers, and her friends as they face off supernatural forces from The Upside Down in their small, sleepy town of Hawkins.

Nearly three years after Season 3, the show is returning in two parts due to its “unprecedented length.” Volume 1 starts streaming on May 27 while Volume 2 premieres on July 1.

From left: Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Noah Schnapp as Will Byers in Stranger Things.
Photos courtesy of Netflix

“With nine scripts, over 800 pages, almost two years of filming, thousands of visual effects shots and a runtime nearly twice the length of any previous season, Stranger Things 4 was the most challenging season yet, but also the most rewarding one,” the Duffer Brothers recently said in an open letter to the show’s fans.

Actors reprising their roles are Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Maya Hawke (Robin Buckley), Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers) and David Harbour (Jim Hopper).

From left: Finn, Noah and Millie in another scene from the twopart penultimate season. Volume 1 starts streaming on May 27

According to the Season 4 synopsis, the story picks up six months after the Battle of Starcourt, which caused terror and destruction to Hawkins. Eleven and her friends save the day but the former loses her powers. “While still struggling with the aftermath, our group of friends are separated for the first time — and navigating the complexities of high school hasn’t made things any easier. In this most vulnerable time, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down,” it said.

The STAR found out more about what to expect from Season 4 following a virtual set tour last July 2021. The Duffer Brothers, who serve as executive producers on the series, alongside Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps Entertainment, Iain Paterson and Curtis Gwinn, transported the press to a demo pit for a behind-the-scenes look at the world and mythology they’ve created for the show.

“We learn more this season than we ever have about our mythology. We’ve learned a lot about The Upside Down and what this evil that has been threatening Hawkins all these years really wants. It’s exciting for us in that way, there’s a lot of story being uncovered here,” the brothers said.

Here are five things we’ve also uncovered from the virtual set visit.

1. The kids are all grown-up.

“This is the first time we are seeing our kids in high school, so they have graduated from middle school and they have moved into high school and we see them in several different directions which is challenging for them,” said Ross.

For one, Lucas, since he’s athletic and thinks he has a shot at popularity, is joining the jocks, while Dustin and Mike, being less gifted in athletics, are drawn to the nerds and outsiders in the Hellfire Club.

Steve is now focused on scoring dates, while Dustin hangs out more with Eddie, leader of the Hellfire Club, and this “puts a wedge between our favorite bromance,” Ross added.

As for Eleven, “she does have a change,” said Sarah Hindsgaul and Amy Forsythe, hair and makeup designers, respectively. Physical-wise, she has definitely grown, and she has her tattoo, and scar this year.

“It’s pretty fun watching these guys grow. We have a measurement chart in the trailer. So every time they come in after a long break, I’m like shoes off! And they get up there against the wall and we measure them,” Amy said of the young stars.

2.  The “young adults” are put through full-fledged horror.

Ross quipped that since the kids are now full adults, they thought it was a good year to put them in a full-fledged Nightmare on Elm Street-esque horror film.

“I think our goal with the show is always to try something different every year and make sure that it is evolving. And that comes naturally in a lot of ways because our kids are growing up,” he said.

Added Matt, “There still will be some fun to be had throughout the adventures this year, but overall, I would say that the tone is certainly darker than it’s been.”

3. The Hellfire Club has a significant role in the new season.

As explained during the virtual tour, the Hellfire Club is the “fancy name” for Hawkins High’s nerdy Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) club. It is run by Eddie, one of the new major characters in the upcoming season, portrayed by Jason Quinn.

Ross noted that, during the ‘80s, there was an actual concern in the US that D&D was leading to a rise in satanism. “So, to some people in Hawkins, they don’t think it’s an innocent game that they’re playing, but that there’s something more sinister beneath the surface.”

This somewhat served as an inspiration, as well as the 1996 documentary titled Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills about three youths accused of murders in the early ‘90s as part of an alleged ritual in Arkansas.

4. Season 4 is spread out in various locations.

With different settings involved, Season 4 promises unique visuals and aesthetics.

Ross said, “We kind of call this our Game of Thrones season because we are spread out all over the place at many different locations.”

Matt pointed out, “We have a California aesthetic, a Hawkins spring aesthetic, and then we’ve got a wintery Russian aesthetic, so all of those different tones playing at the same time is really, probably the biggest influence on this season.”

But with Hawkins being the center stage of the horror story, spotlight is turned on the Creel House, the “major new sort of haunted house location.”

“What occurs in that house is pivotal to understanding what has been happening in Hawkins all of these years,” teased Ross.

Chris Trujillo, the production designer on Stranger Things, further shared: “The Creel house this year was the home of this character, and essentially, he is like physically responsible for this mindscape space. We see it in a 1959 version and we see it in a present-day dilapidated version, and then we spend some time there in The Upside Down,” he said, referring to the parallel universe that has been a main location of the Stranger Things run.

“I think the sets and thereby the world of Hawkins is just looking better and better as far as the craft goes. As designers, decorators and art directors, we’ve all kind of just facilitated each other’s development,” said Trujillo.

5. A “big, new evil” arises in Hawkins.

And the name is Vecna, the Duffer brothers divulged during the virtual tour.

Barrie Gower, prosthetics designer, said that in creating Vecna the monster, they integrated into it lots of organic shapes and textures. But the origins and how Vecna came to be will stay as a secret — for now.

The Duffer Brothers are also introducing other supernatural creatures, like the Demo Bats, that are “very, very deadly” and have the ability to act like spies.

Other plot details will remain a mystery but one thing is certain, Season 4 is the penultimate season and Season 5 will be the finale.

“There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things; new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes,” the Duffer Brothers noted in their letter.

“But first, we hope that you stay with us as we finish this tale of a powerful girl named Eleven and her brave friends, of a broken police chief and a ferocious mom, of a small town called Hawkins and an alternate dimension known only as the Upside Down. As always, we are grateful for your patience and support,” they concluded.

STRANGER

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