After nearly three years of waiting, the premiere of Stranger Things season 4 is (almost) within sight. As the May 27 release of the penultimate season of the Duffer Brothers’ sci-fi horror drama draws closer, Netflix has released a slew of first look photos of the upcoming two-parter installment of Eleven, Mike, and co.’s adventures.
Set six months following the battle against the Mind Flayer at the end of season 3, Stranger Things season 4 will find our heroes scattered across four different locations, from the windswept snowy reaches of Russia to sun-kissed California. In a forthcoming episode of the Present Company with Krista Smith podcast, series creators Ross and Matt Duffer stated that season 4 would have a much darker, “horror movie” vibe compared to earlier seasons, citing the characters’ age and subsequent growth since the series first premiered.
“When we pitched it to Netflix all those years ago, we pitched it as the kids are ... The Goonies in E.T.,” Ross says. “That’s their storyline. And the adults are in Jaws and Close Encounters and then the teens are in Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween. But, this year, we don’t have the kids. We can’t do The Goonies anymore. And so, suddenly, we’re leaning much harder into that horror movie territory that we love. It was fun to make that change.”
Things certainly have changed since the first season of Stranger Things, as these new photos of season 4 can attest. Jim Harper is imprisoned in a Russian camp following his heroic (attempted) sacrifice at the end of season 3, the kids looks significantly older, Mike has a mullet, Joyce appears to be stranded in a wintery forest alongside the conspiracy theorist Brett Gelman from last season. But hey, we still got Dungeons & Dragons!
As announced back in February, Stranger Things season 4 will be split into two separate volumes, with the first arriving on May 27 and the second coming out on July 1. Though it’s unknown yet how the season will be split it half, we do know that the it will consist of at least “nine scripts,” making for the biggest and longest season in the show’s history so far. In addition, the Duffer Brothers have teased that while Stranger Things is set to end with its fifth season, the larger universe of the series will continue in some shape or another.