The first episodes of Stranger Things season four have finally been released – and there is a new villain everyone is talking about.
The new season has presented viewers with a new antagonist that has the characters fearful for the fate of Hawkins – and their lives.
*Spoilers for Stranger Things season four follow… you have been warned!*
Dustin (played by Gaten Matarazzo) named the villain Vecna after noticing similarities between his powers and those of a character in the game Dungeons and Dragons.
As the show develops, however, it becomes apparent that Vecna (the villain from the Upside Down) bears little resemblance to his namesake.
Vecna has the ability to insinuate himself into the minds of his victims, putting them in a trance and trapping them in a nightmarish alternate reality where he has the power to kill them in real life.
Matarazzo previously told Radio Times that Nightmare on Elm Street was a “big inspiration” for the Duffer Brothers – the show’s creators – when they were writing the fourth season.
The comparison makes sense given that Vecna’s powers resemble those of Freddy Krueger, the antagonist in the 1984 horror film who is able to attack his victims in their dreams.
It is appropriate then that Robert Englund (who played Krueger in the horror franchise) appears in the series as one of Vecna’s earliest victims, Victor Creel.
David Harbour (who reprises his role as Hopper in the series) previously told Variety that “Vecna is a psychological horror that i don’t think we’ve really seen”.
“We’ve never seen something as calculatedly psychologically evil as this,” said Harbour, adding that Vecna “is a true big bad that we’ve needed in the series”.
*Again, BIG spoilers for Stranger Things season four, part one below*
What is Vecna’s true identity – and what is his back story?
In a huge plot twist, Vecna is revealed to be Peter Ballard (played by Jamie Campbell).
Peter is One – or 001 – the original subject of Dr Brenner’s (Matthew Modine) telekinetic experiments, of which Eleven was also part.
Peter’s psychosis, however, was so severe that doctors had to repress his powers with a chip.
After tricking Eleven into destroying the chip, a young Peter goes on a killing spree in the lab (flashbacks of which viewers see throughout the season), which concludes in a show-down during which Eleven banishes Peter into the Upside Down, where he eventually becomes Vecna.