Summer of 84 (2018)

summer of 84 poster 2019 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Solid storytelling, cast

While more realistic about setting felt a bit arbitrary

Movie Info

Movie Name: Summer of 84

Studio: Brightlight Pictures

Genre(s): Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  January 22, 2018 (Sundance)/August 10, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

summer of 84 cast boys

Summer is a time for fun!

Nothing seems to happen in Cape May, Oregon, but in the summer of ’84, it could change for Davey Armstrong (Graham Verchere) and his friends.  A serial killer has been uncovered in the area and boys are disappearing.  Davey has a suspect in murders…his police officer neighbor Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer).  Davey knows that he’ll need proof before he goes to the police and recruits his friends to begin staking out Mackey.  If Mackey is the killer, he is hiding it well, and if he isn’t, the killer could still be out there hunting!

Directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell, Summer of 84 is a horror thriller.  The movie premiered at Sundance in 2018 and received a larger release later that year.  It was met with positive reviews.

Summer of 84 was released in the rise of the ’80s nostalgia with shows like Stranger Things and movies like It.  I loved ’80s horror movies and went into Summer of 84 expecting an homage to horror of the decade and getting a completely different result.  A ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

summer of 84 graham verchere rich sommer wayne mackey killer

Fences make good neighbors…and potential murderers

The movie is a rather slow-burn type of film.  I kept expecting a twist in the story, but none surfaced.  The story plays out as kind of a mix of Rear Window and The ’Burbs combined.  There are some tense moments, but much of the movie feels a bit like a Hardy Boys type story with the neighbors.  I thought the movie would be a miss-target type of movie with the characters’ biases misleading their investigation…but instead, Davey is right.  There is no irony, and no over assumption.  It instead is more about kids believing they are invincible and that nothing bad really happens…it does.

The cast is strong.  Graham Verchere is a solid and believable lead as the kid caught up in the excitement of the situation.  It backfires on him and he is left crushed and cursed.  I like the joke in the movie about Caleb Emery’s appearance since in real like the actor is in his twenties.  Mad Men actor Rich Sommer takes a nice dark turn as Wayne Mackey who is genuinely scary in the last few scenes while seeming charming and homey in others.

summer of 84 corpse

It is going to take more than some scrubbing bubbles to clean this tub

The movie is both a smart ’80s movie and a weak ’80s movie.  Often period pieces overdo it.  The costumes are too bright and colorful or too iconic.  This movie doesn’t do a lot of that, and as a result, the setting of the ’80s seems little more arbitrary.  Setting it in the ’80s eliminates the complications of cell phones, cameras, or the internet, and it feels like this more the reason for the setting opposed to setting it there for the mise-en-scène.

It feels like Summer of 84 could have been more.  I like that it presents a Goonies type of movie that takes a real and realistic dark turn, but it could be really special.  The movie isn’t bad, and it has great moments, but I think embracing the setting and time period could have helped the film.  It might be more realistic on how the ’80s were portrayed in this film than in something like Stranger Things or It, but it could be more fun.  I’d like to see a follow-up to see how the characters turned out…Maybe the Winter of ’14.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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