Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink, Gaten Matarazzo and Priah Ferguson on What’s Scarier Than Upside Down

Their characters have fought all kinds of literal horrors, but it’s the metaphorical terrors that are the scariest of them all.

Between the demi-gorgons, the Mind Flayer, and the psychologically and physically twisted Vecna, the kids of Stranger Things have a lot to deal with.

But sometimes it’s not the creepy crawly that’s scary, but the very real — and relatable — experience of growing pains.

“These are also human threats”, stranger things star Sadie Sink told “Like being in high school, going through puberty, navigating friendships and relationships.

“That’s what really scares some of these characters. And in season four, it’s also the grief and the guilt. It can be just as scary as being upside down.

Sink co-star Gaten Matarazzo chimed in, “These characters are as scared of their early crushes as they are of Vecna,” referencing the monstrous season four villain who feeds on people’s psychological trauma.

Sink added: “You would think that after facing half a gorgon they wouldn’t be scared of anything, but it’s like, no, they’re still scared of the school dances and the fact that kids popular like them or not.”

Sink, Matarazzo and Priah Ferguson were in Sydney for a stranger things fan event, where hundreds of screaming devotees welcomed the trio to Luna Park, a sign of the Netflix series’ continued cultural dominance.

It’s this mix of ’80s nostalgia, youthful adventure, and genuine horror that engenders such loyalty, and the series rewards its followers with a broad cast of characters to care about.

“Nothing is really scary for people watching unless they are afraid of something and someone,” Matarazzo said of stranger things‘ call. “It’s not just about being afraid of jumps all the time. Living in this horror world will mean nothing unless it is a threat to someone who is loved and cherished, warm and kind.

“That’s where the show really thrives. And where is it [creators] matt and ross [Duffer] have always had their core.

Given the show’s immense popularity, its young stars are aware of what it means for fans.

“People have been inspired by all of our characters,” said Ferguson, who plays the sassy and smart Erica. “They talked about how it helped them through tough times and even helped them find themselves and be comfortable with who they are.

“It’s very moving and motivating and it kind of helps me want to go further and spread the message more.”

Matarazzo agreed, especially over the past two years of pandemic shutdowns and pressures.

“There are people who have really latched onto this show and I understand that,” he said. “There are projects, works of art and works that look like me. Hearing that people can feel something like that just by seeing what we did is really moving.

The 19-year-old actor and musician, one of the original band members from the first season, identified Harry Potter stories as an art he always comes back to, for “the vibe of friendship in the face of adversity, and something as big and crazy as that”.

It’s not just fans who have taken advantage of Sink’s on-screen counterparts Matarazzo and Ferguson. The actors also turned to their characters.

“[Dustin] has a very carefree way of living his days, especially at school, not really caring what other people think,” Matarazzo said. “I think I struggle with that. So that’s something that I kind of put in character because that’s what I want to see in me.

Sink, likewise, found inspiration in Max’s confidence to be “100% herself.”

The first seven chapters of stranger thingsThe nine-episode fourth season just dropped on Netflix, with the next two mega-sized installments slated for release in July.

The Duffers said the show will end after season five, which means everyone knows the end is near and thoughts turn to where their characters might end up when the unearthly dust settles.

“I want to scream and ride a demi-gorgon in battle,” Matarazzo snarled, before Sink chimed in, “And then Max is right behind him, hitting demi-bats with his skateboard.”

All three agreed that the scholarly Erica would approach things very differently – according to Matarazzo, “You don’t even need a gun, you’d grill the shit out of it.”

Then Sink’s clincher, “I think the final episode might be everybody in group therapy”.

Given the literal, emotional and psychological horrors lurking in stranger thingsit already feels like a collective healing process for its fandom and its stars.

Stranger Things is on Netflix

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