Movie Reviews

Netflix teases a return to the haunted world of ‘Stranger Things’

The teaser — which Netflix debuted at TUDUM, its first-ever global fan event — provided few details. It also was brief, clocking in at around a minute and a half. However, the teaser was long enough to show there’s a different tone for the upcoming season, set to debut in 2022.

“Stranger Things” has always been a mix of Spielberg-ian adventure set in a world of Stephen King-esque horror. The series’ next season, “Stranger Things 4,” appears to be more horrific, at least according to Saturday’s teaser trailer.

The teaser seemingly starts out way before the 1980s, the decade in which “Stranger Things” is normally set, and instead introduces us to a picturesque 1950s family as Ella Fitzgerald’s “Dream A Little Dream of Me” plays. Then everything goes to hell, literally. Lights start flickering, dead animals pop up and there are images of what appears to be a terrible murder.

Fast forward a few decades and the teaser then shows glimpses of beloved characters like Dustin, Steve, Max and Lucas, who now sports a flat-top haircut. The kids are investigating the haunted house from the 1950s, now covered in cobwebs, and looking for clues as to what happened all those years ago. Spooky stuff.

“Stranger Things” is arguably Netflix’s most popular series, and any morsel of content from it — no matter how short or cryptic, and even from a trailer — will be gobbled up by its legions of fans.

Case in point: Even though Netflix has shown teasers of other shows from the upcoming season this one was still all over social media after its debut at TUDUM, which is named for the distinctive sound the service makes before any of its TV shows or films start playing.

This type of devotion is vital for Netflix’s growth and business.

As the king of streaming with more than 200 million subscribers, Netflix (NFLX) doesn’t have the intellectual property prowess of competitors like Disney+, Paramount+ and HBO Max (owned by CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia), which own brands like Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek, DC and Harry Potter.

Yet “Stranger Things” is Netflix’s heaviest hitter in terms of its franchises. Trickling out glimpses of the series boosts excitement and anticipation as its 2022 premiere date, as yet undisclosed, approaches.

This focus on fans and franchises also explains why Netflix is holding TUDUM in the first place. Netflix has been building its franchises and fandoms steadily for years. The company is using TUDUM to remind people of that fact — and to solidify it.

There’s no better way to do that than bringing fans back to the haunted world of “Stranger Things.”

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