Summer of 84 Delivers 80’s Nostalgia w/ a Dark, Delicious Twist (Movie Review)

Summer of 84 Movie ReviewSummer of 84 garnered a lot of praise coming out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  Our own Jason Coleman gave Summer of 84 a P-E-R-F-E-C-T Score over here and called it a “five-star ride that’s righteous.”  Now Jason is more knowledgable than I can ever pretend to be in the world of movies so coming from him that’s a ringing endorsement that I MUST-SEE this film whatever the costs or stakes may be.  That’s just what I did too.  Given the fact that I’m stuck in Austin, TX for the unforeseen future I had to wait my turn for its iTunes’ 4K debut on the platform this past Friday the 24th.  The movie, which saw a limited theatrical release back on August 10th, never made it down here.  I digress though as I am used to it.  Austin is no Los Angeles or Hollywood.  Now let’s talk about this teenage, retro 80’s thriller.

Summer of 84 Movie Review

The Summer of 84 is brought to you by the same creative team that spawned Turbo Kid.  The film has a whopping three directors: Anouk Whissell, François Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell.  Screenplay duties were handled by Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith. The cast doesn’t really have any serious heavy hitters in it, but nevertheless it consists of  Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew, Tiera Skovbye and Rich Sommer.  Just like its vanilla cast the plot is also a very simple one.  A young, awkward looking, teenage boy suspects that a cop who lives next door to him is a suspected serial killer and convinces his friends to help prove it.  Sounds familiar?  It very much is, but don’t worry as the film eventually delivers on a smartly executed dark twist.

Summer of 84 Movie Review

Teenager Davey Armstrong is pretty much your everyday, awkward looking kid next door.  Like me in my youth he is a conspiracy theorist.  When young boys go missing in suburbia he begins to suspect that his neighbor is the serial killer in the news.  The only problem is his neighbor is also a police officer.  What a convenient way for a serial killer to always be one step ahead of the police, huh?  Davey has three, same age, suburbia male friends with whom he hangs around with constantly.  Think The Goonies or Stranger Things here with the usual, mean, unfiltered banter you’d expect between the boys.  Conveniently, there’s also a love interest in the pretty girl next door too.  This is starting to sound cliche, huh?  Well, it really is.  As reported up above Davey eventually recruits his friends in helping them prove his neighbor is the serial killer.  I got to hand it to Davey the kid has mad investigation skills.  That much I cannot deny or take away from him.

Summer of 84

I can identify with the character of Davey here because I grew up in the city of Parma, OH and like living in Austin, TX I am desperate for an adventure like the one we have here.  In addition to that sense of adventure the retro 80’s tone and demeanor of it all struck an accord with me.  This was my life back then and it sadly reminds me how frickin’ old I am now.  Sad, but very much true.  The main thing that differs here between my life and that of Davey and friends is he executes on everything he sets out to do.  Also, unlike movies like this that give you this “typical” sense of security Summer of 84 brutally body slams you.  Things eventually get surprisingly dark and weary.  I loved that!  It wasn’t your Goonies-like ending, but rather a dark and disturbing one that really delivered on its theme.  The suburbs are creepy and “anybody” could be living next to a serial killer and not even know about it.  Think about it some more.  What happens in these houses that we don’t know about?  There has to be more behind-the-scenes than all those perfectly manicured shrubs and immaculate masonry surrounded flower beds, no?  Of course there is!

Summer of 84 Movie Review

Jason Coleman described Summer of 84 as Goonies meets Rear Window.  I concur with those titles, but I would also like to throw in a dash of Disturbia and Netflix’s Stranger Things for good measures.  I felt like they tried very hard to cram and make the appeal of Stranger Things work here.  By that I mean at times the dialogue and banter between the boys felt really forced and artificial.  Sometimes I wrestled with whether Summer of 84 was supposed to be a satire or suspense.  Quite honestly it made Stranger Things that much better in my eyes, but I digress.  They did cleverly play with audio moments for jump scares here.  What Summer of 84 also did effectively was deliver on the real life quirkiness of the politically incorrect kids, ability to drop F-bombs due to it being Unrated, the nostalgic feeling of the time period (we all love even if we don’t admit it) and above all else the synthesized score “everyone” loves from you guessed it…Stranger Things.  The bass in the score even managed to knock a picture frame off my wall.  While there’s never much doubt who the killer is the Summer of 84 hits home hard with having to deal with real life, lingering, dangerous consequences in the dark, unexpected terrain it takes us into.  I would love it if we saw a “Chapter 2” like we’re getting from IT.  I’m just sayin’ as I can visualize it.

Summer of 84 Movie Review


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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