Stranger Things Visual Effects Supervisor Breaks Down The Grisly Season 4 Death That Nobody Has A Problem With

Spoilers ahead for the fourth season of Stranger Things on Netflix

The final two episodes of Stranger Things Season 4 crossed the point of no return, with rifts opening to the Upside Down and sending the Hawkins death toll into the double digits. Most of the people who died in Hawkins were off-screen, but viewers saw high school basketball star/mob leader Jason (played by actor Mason Dye) die a grisly death. Few tears were probably shed among fans over Jason’s death after all the damage he caused to the heroes, and visual effects supervisor Justin Mitchell spoke with CinemaBlend to break down how the effects team made it happen. 

Justin Mitchell and the Scanline VFX team guaranteed that Jason’s relatively quick death was also quite memorable and very gruesome, as he was the first victim of the rifts opening in Hawkins. The supervisor opened up about designing the effects to deliver Jason’s demise, saying:

Mason Dye as Jason in Stranger Things Season 4 on Netflix.

(Image credit: Netflix)

We had a digital representation of Jason, who was animated to match what the actor was doing on set, and then there was a series of different simulations that were layered together to create the final effects. So there were definitely animated textures that were crawling over his body to blend between what was the photography and the CGI effect of him melting. Then for the melting part of things there, we created cloth simulations as well as fluid and particle simulations in order to get that feeling that he was eroding. He was basically melting. The rift was sort of melting through him.

Considering that Jason’s interference at the Creel House when Lucas was ready to break out the Kate Bush for Max arguably resulted in Vecna successfully killing her – and that was after leading the witch hunt of Eddie and stoking the satanic panic in Hawkins all season – he’s not the most mourned character of Season 4. Justin Mitchell shared that his death was “highly-anticipated,” and fans were probably “happy to see him go in such an epic fashion.”

Jason may have been lucky that he was already unconscious when the rift opened and melted its way through him in the Creel House. The "epic" moment for fans was another example of Stranger Things raising the stakes for horrifying deaths, after spending the first eight episodes showing what Vecna could do to his victims. Justin Mitchell went on to explain one of the key visuals to Jason’s demise, beyond the melting effect:

And of course, it was important to have all of his internals inside the character so it didn't just feel like it was a shell. One of the key visual elements was seeing a ribcage, which is a bit of a hallmark identifier of what's happening and that his guts are spilling out and we get to see that all that’s left is his skeleton.

Let it not be said that Jason’s death was left ambiguous by Stranger Things! Max’s current state is uncertain, since she did technically (although temporarily) die and Eleven couldn’t find her when she was comatose, and fans were unsure enough about Dr. Brenner and the dearly departed Eddie that the Duffer brothers came out to settle the question, but the former high school basketball star is definitely no longer among the living.

Of course, Jason was acting on limited information during the season, and fully believed that Eddie had killed Chrissy and Lucas was doing harm to Max in the Creel House, so he’s not going to rank as the worst of the worst villains in Stranger Things history. Vecna is likely going to take the top prize in that category, unless the Mind Flayer proves to have been the big bad all along in the fifth and final season. 

Jamie Campbell Bower, who played Vecna, opened up about how he prepared to play the villain who wreaked havoc in and out of the Upside Down in Season 4, and revealed how the filming order affected his performance. Vecna was still alive, although hurt, at the end of the season, and may have even more of a grudge against Eleven than he did before their rematch in the finale. 

The heroes also lost one of their own with the death of Eddie, following the scene that actor Joseph Quinn originally thought “should not work.” The actor also opened up about his positive experiences throughout his time on Stranger Things, including a touching reveal about what he’s most proud of after playing Eddie. His character is undoubtedly going to be far more missed than Jason whenever Season 5 finally arrives.

You can revisit the first four seasons of Stranger Things streaming with a Netflix subscription now. Unfortunately, there is no news of when exactly to expect the fifth season to premiere, and fans can only hope that the wait following this cliffhanger won’t be as long as the wait between Seasons 3 and 4. For some viewing options in the meantime, take a look at our 2022 TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).