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Stranger Things season 4's first official photos tease a scary new vibe

Eleven, Mike, Will and friends stare into the distance in an official image from Stranger Things season 4
(Image credit: Netflix)

Not only have the Stranger Things kids grown up, the first Stranger Things season 4 photos show that the series appears to be maturing as well. Netflix just dropped a big batch of moodily-lit photos that tease what we already knew: This season looks like it will pack a whole lot of dark, horror movie vibes. Oh, and one of the Duffer Brothers has confirmed some very good news.

Yes, this new set of photos is clearly setting up the vibe shift for the new season, as everybody looks either confused or scared (or both). That is except for a new character, who is playing the role of Dungeon Master in a D&D session, though he still looks a bit menacing. (Will's hair isn't supposed to be one of the scarier parts of these photos, but it is nonetheless.)

This new vibe is very clearly intentional, as even Netflix's own site Tudum noted it in an article titled "These ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Photos Hint at a ‘Horror Movie’ Vibe," that gives us more details. For example, the new DM is Eddie, who is played by Joseph Quinn (of Dickensian and the Howards End TV miniseries), and that ominous shot with the kids in a room only lit by a chandelier is in the Creel House, one of the new big centerpieces of Stranger Things. 

Of course, we've got another new shot of Jim Hopper, whose hair didn't survive the Russian base he was taken to. The new season begins six months after the battle at Starcourt Mall, and it's definitely going to be darker.

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The kids in a Creel House room lit by a chandelier in an official image from Stranger Things season 4

(Image credit: Netflix)
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Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven / Jane Hopper and Noah Schnapp as Will Byers in an official image from Stranger Things season 4

(Image credit: Netflix)
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Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson and Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair are up to something spooky in an official image from Stranger Things season 4

(Image credit: Netflix)
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Jim Hopper (David Harbour) in an official image from Stranger Things season 4

(Image credit: Netflix)
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Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gelman) outside of a crashed plane in a snowy scene in an official image from Stranger Things season 4

(Image credit: Netflix)
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Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Erica (Priah Ferguson) look up in an official image from Stranger Things season 4

(Image credit: Netflix)
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Eddie (Joseph Quinn) leads a special meeting of Hawkins High’s D&D club in an official image from Stranger Things season 4

(Image credit: Netflix)

Very good news about Stranger Things season 4

In the aforementioned blog post, we got some quotes from The Duffer Brothers, who have been steering the Stranger Things ship. 

In an upcoming episode of Present Company With Krista Smith, Ross Duffer expanded on the previous announcement that the new season will be longer than you might expect, stating "I think they'll be happy when they see it. It's very, very long, which is why it's taking us a very long time." Considering how long it took to make? Fans (myself included) are more than ready for a super-sized new season.

Duffer also noted that the Stranger Things devotees are apparently as clever as ever, as some of the fan theories he's found online are "startlingly" accurate, but he (of course) declined to say which theories. Duffer said "I'm constantly impressed with how sharp the fans are, and how quickly they’re able to put something together with very, very little information."

In that same interview, Ross Duffer said that the season has a different vibe, which is by design. He elaborated, stating "When we pitched it to Netflix all those years ago, we pitched it as the kids are...The Goonies in E.T. ... 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."

Stranger Things season 4 is split into two parts. Volume 1 streams on May 27, and Volume 2 arrives on July 1.

Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.