Yes, The Stranger Things 4 Subtitle Team Was 'Trolling A Little Bit'

As someone who always prefers watching films/shows with closed captioning, the subtitles for "Stranger Things" season 4 stood out to me from the get-go, as this season made some, um, distinct choices when describing the shifting tones of the show. From the now-infamous "tentacles undulating moistly" to the underrated "demogorgon feeding wetly" and "eldritch thrumming," the subtitles for season 4 are clearly something else, and there are many reasons that factored into these creative decisions. 

Speaking to Vulture, the subtitle team for "Stranger Things" season 4 clarified the reasons behind these choices, and Jeff T., author of subtitles like "[ominous pulsing]", admitted that there was a fair bit of trolling involved in some of the lines: 

"I will admit I was trolling a little bit with that (the "tentacles undulating" line). Also, in the past year or two, I've been watching ASMR streams to figure out which words elicit that kind of response in people, so I'll grab them and put them in my word bank. "Moistly" pops up a lot in those ASMR streams."

Jeff is right about "moistly" evoking emotions of disgust, as it correctly translates the icky sensations associated with a primordial, otherworldly gate pulsating with life or a sentient part of the Upside Down grabbing a character with its tendrils. The words used are naturally supposed to be a little over-the-top, plus, the results are hilarious. 

[Intense industrial synth music intensifies]

Although there's an element of being silly and humorous while crafting something like "gate writhing wetly," the reason why the subtitles for season 4 are so descriptive is far more practical and necessary. Subtitles quality checker Karli Webster explained that the reason why the subtitles go into great detail describing an unpleasant sound/sensation or the nuances of the background score is that they're an instrumental tool for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences:

"It is supposed to be an uncomfortable situation, and that's why it was used in the show... What I've noticed quite a lot online are people who don't really understand the subtitles are for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. I've seen a lot of, 'Why are the subtitles so overly descriptive? We don't need these.' And I know you don't, but you weren't the main audience for subtitles from the start."

This obviously puts the seemingly "over-descriptive" nature of the subtitles into fresh perspective, as subtitles function beyond mere dialogue transcription — they convey the subtle shifts in mood in a tense, horror-centric supernatural series in the most visceral of ways. Webster also explained that conveying these subtle shifts in emotion, say from a distressing scene to one that filled with hope is an essential part of their job, meaning that they're simply "doing [their] jobs correctly." [Ferocious guitar riff.]

Volumes 1 and 2 of "Stranger Things" season 4 are currently streaming on Netflix.