Summer of 84 – USA, 2017

‘Every serial killer lives next door to someone.’

Summer of 84 – aka Summer of ’84 – is a 2017 American horror feature film directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell (Turbo Kid) from a screenplay by Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith.

Growing up on a quiet cul-de-sac in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Davey’s desperate to believe there’s more to life than what he sees from his bedroom window.
For Davey, every tabloid cover is a peek into the world as it really is, as it really must be past the borders of the humdrum neighbourhood where he and his best friends Eats, Farraday and Woody have grown up.

Sure they spend their summers playing nighttime flashlight tag (“Manhunt”), riding their BMX bikes all over town, and spying on the hot, sometimes topless chick next door, Nikki… but Davey thirsts for more. As their investigation heats up, Davey and his best buds soon discover Mr. Mackey is onto them and their suspicions quickly become all too real…

The film’s European premiere will be at the 2018 Arrow Video FrightFest in London on 23 August 2018.

Reviews [my contain spoilers]:

“When the guys are busy ogling p*rn and swearing at each other, you get the sense of something more honest and realistic due to the rough edges. It isn’t until you realize that is a crutch in place of real characters that the appeal wears off and that the filmmakers have gone for something far lazier and poorly considered.” Matt Goldberg, Collider

“After a slow yet strong start reels in attention spans with a throwback thriller tone, believability starts rattling on the rails once the last cat comes out of the bag. An improbably plotted final 15 minutes leaves off on a depressingly bleak note betraying a majority of the movie’s mood. You definitely won’t leave the film feeling upbeat.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

“Imagine what it would have been had meaning not been imposed on it. As it is, Summer of ’84 is a collection of fine performances headlined by a revelatory one and an ending that somehow manages to redeem the exhausted milieu and premise. I’m not sorry I watched it. Hell, I watched it twice.” Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central

“Mystery-wise, the film teases viewers pretty effectively, with plenty of jolts that suggest the boys are on the right track balanced by other signs they’re making something out of nothing. But with a couple of small exceptions, attempts to flesh out the teen characters don’t work very well…” John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

Summer of ‘84 takes too long to get there. The performances are not solid from everyone. And it borrows from practically every “kid in peril” and “group of outcast kids bonding” films of the past 30 years (basically since the film’s story took place).” Michael Klug, Horrorfreak News

“Beneath the fond recreation of the decade and the often-hilarious character rapport, however, is a reminder that we can never truly look to the past with rose tinted glasses. A genuinely sinister final half hour refuses to offer the conventional reassurance of a mystery solved, instead leaving us with the all too real sense of at least one life forever haunted by what happened in the Summer of 84.” Horrorscreams Videovault

“It’s a film that spends way too much time dawdling with ’80s teenaged boy stuff’ that feels like the boring bits of Joe Dante’s Explorers drawn out even further, before finally giving us a final act that does turn satisfyingly disturbing, although ironically it may be a bit much for those who have been enjoying what has gone before.” John Llewellyn Probert, House of Mortal Cinema

” …the script is underwritten, with too many fake-outs and an unearned zigzag at the end. It is not the eerie suspense of digging up the suspect’s garden or the jump-out-at-you surprises that make a thriller. It is some connection to the characters and some stakes in the outcome. This film stays on the surface, imitating thrills, not delivering them.” Nell Minow, RogerEbert.com

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