Summer of ’84 Review (2018)

Summer of 84 Review

by Angie on August 24th, 2018 | |

Summer of ’84 was directed by François Simard (who also directed Total Fury), Anouk Whissell (who also directed BAGMAN Profession: Meurtrier), and Yoann-Karl Whissell; and stars Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis (from The Babysitter) and Caleb Emery. It’s about a group of meddling kids who start poking around their neighbors house, suspecting him of serial killing.

Every serial killer lives next door to someone.

Summer of ’84 Review

Whether you actually grew up in the 80’s or simply have a soft spot for seeing the decade captured to perfection on film, it goes without saying that 80’s throwbacks are all the rage right now. The runaway popularity of must-see streaming masterpieces like Stranger Things combined with the enduring legacy of beloved era favorites like The Burbs continue to keep filmmakers attempting to cash in on the trend. Naturally, some of those offerings are better than others, but Summer of ’84 just might be one of the ones worth giving your time to.

Like many similar films from the actual 80’s, Summer of ’84 follows the adventures of four teenage boys through – you guessed it – the adventures and events of the summer of 1984. Davey, Tommy, Curtis, and Woody are like many boys their age in that their days are filled with tall tales, “your mom” jokes, and the occasional glance at a female neighbor through a bedroom window. Then one day, they hear that a serial killer is on the loose in their area. The boys eventually begin to suspect a police officer neighbor may be the culprit and take it upon themselves to look for evidence, hoping to crack the case wide open themselves. Will they actually succeed or are they setting themselves up for a summer of fear instead?

The film is directed by the same team behind Turbo Kid, which festival goers may fondly remember from 2015 thanks to the buzz it generated at the time. It’s written by Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith and stars talented young actors like Graham Marc Verchere (Fargo, The Good Doctor) and Judah Lewis (The Babysitter). It saw its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to the tune of mixed reviews and it’s not hard to see why.

Summer of ’84 has everything in common with actual coming-of-age 80’s films like The Goonies, Stand By Me, and The Monster Squad. It does a great job taking viewers back to their own 80’s childhood by capturing the innocent, carefree nature of a summer vacation spent with friends. The young actors cast as the four friends also do a wonderful job in their roles even though the script hardly sparkles, feeling repetitive and clichéd at times. The Le Matos score fails to deliver the auditory punch fans of Turbo Kid might be hoping for as well.

On the other hand, the film is beautifully produced and exquisitely slick-looking. Director of photography Jean-Phillipe Bernier has incredible instincts as far as what looks great on screen. Summer of ’84 also strikes exactly the right balance when it comes to capturing the look and feel of the 80’s. It’s easy to overdo things and ruin the pace of such a film by smothering the viewer in an overabundance of nods, references, and era-specific quips. In Summer, it’s the little things that let you know where in time you’re situated and that’s really as it should be. The film also ends with an interesting twist, although admittedly there are pacing issues that keep that twist from having the powerful impact it should have.

As a film, Summer of ’84 does have its problems and it’s unlikely to go down in horror film history because of them. However, there’s absolutely enough about this film to make it worth checking out. It’s not going to keep you up at night or win any Oscars, but it will definitely keep you entertained on a Friday night at home or during a rainy Saturday afternoon. It will most certainly satisfy any film lover’s insatiable taste for coming-of-age 80’s stories while they patiently wait for the next installment of Stranger Things.

The Verdict:

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