Summer of ‘84 is one of those movies that tries to tap into the whole 80s nostalgia thing. Think Stranger Things, The Burbs, and Stephen King all wrapped into a neat All-American thriller where four boys believe that one of their neighbours is a notorious serial killer.
The trouble is it strives so hard to emanate the decade and all its glory, (wicked soundtrack included) that it struggles to form a unique identity of its own. That is until the final 20 WTF!!! Minutes of the movie that shakes up your preconceptions and messes with your heard.
By this stage, you would have lost some of the audience, waiting for something to seperate Summer of ‘84 from the pack, and the other half of the audience barely hanging on.
This is a shame because the trailer teased and tantalised an epic feature, but if you can stick it out to the end, the pay off is definitely worth it.
The premise follows Davey Armstrong, the son of a journalist, who suspects neighbour Mackey a well-respected police officer to be the Cape May Slayer, who has murdered of 13 teenage boys in the county area.
At first his friends, Woody, Curtis, and Eats, all find Davey’s story too far-fetched. That is until Davey claims to have seen the latest missing kid at Mackey’s House. Cue espionage style tactics from the kids as they try every spy trick in the book to uncover the truth from tracking his every move, going through his trash and finally breaking and entering.
Is Mackey the murderer, (I mean, there is something a little off about his mannerisms, expertly played by Mad Men’s Rich Sommer) or is it the wild imaginations of a young mind?
The kids are all likeable enough to keep you wondering and caring when they fall into precarious situations, with plenty of decent back story to most of them.
There’s even room for a love interest in old friend and crush, Nikki, who also seems a little unhinged and leaves you wondering if this is a result of her parents separating or is there something darker going on underneath her sweet demeanour.
Directors Simard, Whissell, and Whissell certainly tick all the boxes and it’s only when we are feeling secure that they decide to whip the carpet of safety from under our feet and throw a massive curveball into the midst.
From a political point of view, when Reagan was in power, it’s as if the creatives wanted to make a sweeping statement that American life would never be the same again and that ‘home life’ as we knew it would be totally broken apart and everything that we could rely upon would leave us questioning our faith in everything that our society is built upon.
There is no sanctuary. Not anymore.
Summer of 84 nearly falls prey to standard thriller territory until it sucker punches you in the gut for the climax of the movie, leaving you feeling unnerved and a huge talking point.
- Saul Muerte