After suspecting that their police officer neighbor is a serial killer, a group of teenage friends spend their summer spying on him and gathering evidence, but as they get closer to discovering the truth, things get dangerous. – (Source)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 64% (Critics) / 73% (Audience)
MetaScore: 54 – Mixed or average reviews
Directed By: Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell
Written By: Matt Leslie, Stephen J. Smith
Starring: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew, Tiera Skovbye and Rich Sommer
Studio: Gunpowder & Sky
I love the 80s. The aesthetic, the culture…just everything about it. So this movie hit a nostalgia sweet spot for me from the start. I also love coming of age movies especially when the kid actors are all likable and every one of the kids in the main foursome in SUMMER OF 84 worked for me despite primarily just being archetypes more than completely fleshed out characters.
SUMMER OF 84 also managed to keep things suspenseful as the kids went on their mission to root out the serial killer in their neighborhood. The movie made sure to keep the audience guessing right up to the reveal of just who the killer was. At times the kids’ investigation looked solid and you would believe they were on the right track and then something would happen that would have you questioning everything the kids were saying. I also have to give some credit to Rich Sommer as the target of the kids’ suspicions for making me question things so much. Sommer has such a “Average Joe” face and demeanor that he always kept me guessing especially when he would have moments where his demeanor went from perfectly normal to incredibly creepy on a dime.
I also really loved the synth score in this movie. I know there has been a lot of talk about the 80s nostalgia wave nearing its end but I will take a kick-ass 80s style synth score any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
The teen romance subplot between Davey and “Girl Next Door” Nikki was cute in concept but in execution it didn’t work because Graham Verchere who played Davey looked all of 14 years old while Tiera Skovbye who played Nikki looked like she was 25 if she was a day. It looked like one of those teacher’s seducing a teenage student stories that are in the news on an almost daily basis.
There were lots (and lots) of allusions to the dysfunctional home lives of 3/5’s of the kids that made up this modern day Goonies crew but they never really went anywhere and could have been totally dropped for the most part without losing much from the movie.
When this movie decides to turn left and go down the dark as hell route it does it with an almost cruel glee. The duo who wrote this movie and the team of directors at the helm of it are some seriously disturbed people.
Final Verdict: SUMMER OF 84 lulls the viewer into a nostalgic haze of false security before taking an extremely dark turn that shatters all comparisons to THE GOONIES, STRANGER THINGS or any other kid focused 80s or retro-80s films/TV that came before it.