SPOILERS FOR STRANGER THINGS SEASON 4 ARE AHEAD. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO READ PLOT POINTS, PLEASE READ ONE OF GFR’S MANY OTHER FINE ARTICLES.
Stranger Things season 4 is here and it is not for the faint of heart. In fact, the penultimate season of the hit Netflix series has been ramping up its always creepy atmosphere, to the point where the people involved with it have some concern about whether it is suitable for all audiences. Specifically, executive producer Shawn Levy is straightforward in saying he personally thinks that Stranger Things season 4 is too scary for younger viewers and that series creators The Duffer Brothers had to get him aboard. As part of a longer interview, here is what Shawn Levy told The Hollywood Reporter on the subject:
I was occasionally nervous that the show was going so dark, it would be off-putting to the younger viewers that have flocked to our show. When we made season one, we thought this was a 13-and-over kind of viewing experience. What we now know is that kids as young as 9 and 10 are watching Stranger Things, and I knew that this season would be scary as shit for some of those viewers. The Duffers, to their credit, pointed out that every time we go darker, somehow our audience stays with us and grows.
It is somewhat amusing that Shawn Levy would be concerned that Stranger Things season 4 would drive away viewers at this point, considering that it is a cultural megahit preparing for its culmination. As much as there has been some creepy stuff going on in this most recent season of the show, it is worth mentioning that the very first set of episodes involved a secret government lab in which tattooed, shaven-haired children were psychologically tortured into becoming remote viewing assets in the Cold War, a high school girl was brutally murdered by an extradimensional monster in a swimming pool, and Matthew Modine had a real creepy vibe. Despite what Shawn Levy might think about Stranger Things season 4, the darkness inherent in the show is not a bug, it is a feature.
Of course, it must be admitted that Stranger Things season 4 is upping the ante. Throughout the course of the recently released episodes, we see multiple Hawkins, Indiana-area teens psychologically tortured by the season Big Bad Vecna, levitated into the air, and had their bodies graphically broken at teeth-clenching angles and their eyes disappear into vacant black sockets. On the other hand, Shawn Levy directed Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, so he should know something about very disturbing filmmaking.
Stranger Things season 4 seems to be finally going into f the mysterious origin of the alternate dimension known as the Upside Down and how it might be connected with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). The first episode of the series begins with a long sequence of Matthew Modine’s Doctor Martin Brenner in the Hawkins National Laboratory prior to the events of the first season and ends in a scene of mass child murder so potentially disturbing that Netflix felt compelled to add a warning. There are also some very disturbing images of guest star Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger himself of Nightmare on Elm Street fame) with his eyes stitched clothes and any number of other freaky things. But again, this is what the people come for, Shawn Levy.
The fifth and final season of Stranger Things does not yet have a release date, but we do not expect it any earlier than 2023. For now, you just have to test your mettle and courage with Strange Things season 4.