‘Stranger Things’ Season 4: What Really Happened at the Creel House?

Explaining the horrors of the house at the heart of Season 4.

Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Season 4 of the Netflix series Stranger Things.

It’s safe to say that Stranger Things Season 4 is the series’ darkest offering to date. Much of it stems from circumstance – Hopper’s (David Harbour) in a Soviet prison, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is facing a harsh life without her powers, the gang’s divided up, and Max (Sadie Sink) is grieving the loss of her brother. But the series also leans heavily into horror more than it has ever before. At the heart of all this is the Creel House. A house in Hawkins with a sordid past and ties to the current mysterious happenings in the town. So what really happened at the Creel House? And how did it relate to the Upside Down?
The plot of the fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things revolves around unexplainable murders occurring in Hawkins and the arrival of a new figure from the Upside Down, called the Vecna. This leads to Max and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) gathering the gang in Hawkins and leading the investigation to find out what is happening, especially since the body count keeps piling up and Max seems to be caught in the crosshairs. Plus, with The Mind Flayer out of commission having been thrown in the Upside Down by Eleven at the end of Season 3, the Hawkins gang have to figure out what is going on before Max ends up suffering a heavy price.

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The History of The Creel House

Initially, we learn of the Creels through Wayne Munson (Joel Stoffer), the uncle of new series regular Eddie (Joseph Quinn). According to local legend, a man named Victor Creel (Robert Englund) moved into the house with his family in the spring of 1959. Something there drove him crazy to the point that he killed his wife, daughter and son, by taking their eyes out. Wayne also thinks that Chrissy (Grace Van Dien)’s murder seems too similar for it to be a coincidence and thinks Victor Creel has escaped custody and is now on a murder spree in Hawkins.


This leads Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Robin (Maya Hawke) to a local library where they come upon The Weekly Watcher, a conspiracy theories publication from way back in the day that recounts how Victor believed that the house was possessed by some kind of demon that killed his entire family and led to him blinding himself. Victor believes that the demon left him alive as a punishment. The paper also reported that prior to the murders at the Creel House, Victor had brought over an exorcist to try and get rid of the demon, but it hadn’t worked. This leads the duo investigating the issue to Pennhurst Asylum where they get a one on one time with Mr. Creel.

There, Victor accounts how after the second world war, he and his wife moved into the Creel House thanks to the fortune of his wealthy wife, with his two kids Alice and Henry in tow. However, things quickly started unraveling upon the family’s arrival at the house: dead animals showed up at their doorstep, violent nightmares began, lights began flickering. You get the idea. Victor described the state of the madness that descended in the house, how his wife leaped up off the ground and had her body contorted, and how he went into the Upside Down, only to be rescued by the music in the background which he described as the “voice of an angel” (although it was Ella Fitzgerald on the radio). Upon his arrival back to the Creel house, his son was in a coma, and his daughter dead. To his relief, his son Henry was alive, but Victor soon hears that he too has succumbed to his injuries and is dead, which further drives Victor into a spiral of depression and leads to him taking a razor to his own eyes.


What Actually Happened?

Of course, as the gang later learned through Vecna’s own admission, the story didn’t quite get everything right. In a shocking twist, we learn that the orderly Peter (Jamie Campbell Bower) whom Eleven had befriended as a child in captivity, was not only the first test subject but also Henry Creel. After the events at the Creel House, Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) found Henry and made him the first test subject for Project MK Ultra.


However, Henry reveals that his mother had suspected that he was behind the terror at Creel House, as he had been using his natural powers to explore darker magic and had an affinity for spiders. Therefore, his mother secretly contacted Brenner earlier to try and figure out what he was capable of. Of course, both are unable to stop him. Henry reveals that he was the one killing animals, creation visions, and psychologically and ultimately physically torturing his family. However, after his mind collapsed in the aftermath of murdering his mother and sister, and failing to kill his father, Brenner had him legally declared dead and contained him as his personal guinea pig. He spent his life at the facility growing up and working for Brenner in his program to experiment on other powered kids.


There, when he recognizes that Eleven’s powers are quite advanced, he convinces her that Brenner is out to kill her and the other kids. However, El refuses to join his crusade after she sees the bloodbath he unleashes upon everyone and instead engages in a super-powered battle with him, which sends him reeling back against a wall, where the portal to the Upside Down opens and was shown been since Season 1 and to his own surprise, to the Upside Down, where he spends the rest of his time and becomes the Vecna monster we’ve known. This thereby ties Eleven to the happenings in Hawkins this entire time and reveals how she had helped birth the threat in Hawkins. It’s a pretty clever way to not only make Vecna an integral part of Eleven’s life from the start but also to make her story connect with the Upside Down to a greater extent than fans had expected.

   

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