'Stranger Things' has always had an element of thrill and horror.
Its supernatural themes have toed the line between horror and sci-fi with a bit of 80s nostalgia thrown in. The audience was promised that season 4 would be the most terrifying of them all, and we weren't disappointed. Despite the first three Stranger Things seasons including scary imagery and dark tones, nothing matches the viewers' experience of season 4.
But of all the season's episodes, which one is the scariest? Let's take a look.
What makes Stranger Things season 4 so terrifying?
So, as scary episodes go, we've got a lot to talk about. There are the brutal deaths, the disturbing story of Victor Creel, the demobat attacks, Nancy's nightmare with Barb, Vecna's creation, Eddie's death, and Max's brush with death to name a few.
It's safe to say, though, that the most disturbing location is the classic haunted house with its spiders, malfunctioning lights, and monsters in the dark. The plot is darker too. The human-like monster is capable of possessing the souls of his victims and torments them with hallucinations and nightmares of their past trauma before trapping them in his realm for eternity.
The villain himself playfully toys with victims; it's an intense, slow-burning story that leads to the first death. The build-up certainly has the audience on the edge of their seats with anticipation. There's a clear villain in all of this but he is not revealed until Chrissy's death. It's this intrigue and tension that makes the season so terrifying.
Why Vecna makes for a scary villain
Stranger Things 4 doesn't bombard the audience with jump scares and classic horror. Rather, it balances the darker moments with light-hearted, bright moments with a scattering of comedy. However, this balance means that the audience can never truly relax and have a constant edge-of-seat feeling going on, which certainly adds to the thrill.
Vecna himself is a true horror. He enjoys mentally torturing the teens in their own minds before brutally killing them in scenes that make even the strongest of audiences wince.
Which Stranger Things 4 episode is the scariest?
Though there are many scary moments in many episodes, for a lot of people Chrissy's death in the first episode is the most fear-inducing. Here's why.
Chrissy's character makes its debut this season. In a true 80s teen movie way, she's a cheerleader and the most popular among Hawkins High girls. Classically, she's also in a relationship with the basketball captain, Jason Carver.
With a life that looks outwardly perfect, it's soon revealed that this girl is suffering from lingering trauma after being abused by her mother. However, it's not just her past trauma coming back to haunt her, there's something much more sinister at play.
Things take a turn after she meets Eddie Munson – drug dealer, D&D dungeon master, and leader of the Hellfire Club – in the woods.
After requesting to buy something a little stronger to numb her from her haunting visions of her abusive mother, she meets Munson at his house to buy ketamine. However, it's there in Eddie's trailer that she dies in the most wince-inducing way – but not before she floats in the air, becomes unresponsive and her eyes explode.
It's not just the death in Eddie's trailer that's so disturbing. The turn of events going on with Chrissy in the Upside Down with Vecna is fear-inducing, to say the least. With Vecna digging his claws into her skull, visions of her dad sewn up at the eyes and mouth, the squelchy noises, and Vecna's groaning voice, it's safe to say that this is a death scene that doesn't disappoint horror fans
This is the episode that sets the scene for the whole season. And because it's so unexpectedly shocking and graphic, many argue this makes it the scariest. After this first death, we know what to expect in subsequent deaths.
Chrissy's death scene being so excruciating and disturbing makes it a true hit for horror fans. In the real world, she's levitating, pinned up high to the ceiling, and unresponsive. Yet, she's suffering at the hands of Vecna in the Upside Down. With her arms brutally snapped, her eyes bleeding and imploding, it's no wonder Munson flees the scene, terrified of what he's just witnessed. There's no doubt that much of the audience was hiding behind their hands at this point too!
Stranger Things has always dabbled with horror yet it's this season 4 first episode that truly brings it out into a real horror show. The cut to the credits right at the end adds to the whole 'what have I just watched?' factor, which certainly makes viewers keen to see more. Well done Stranger Things, the horror genre has been well and truly nailed this season!