Movie Review: ‘Summer of ’84’ falls a bit short of ‘Stranger Things’
In ‘Summer of ’84’, we meet a group of young teenage outcast friends: Conspiracy theory loving Davey (Graham Verchere), punk troublemaker Eats (Judah Lewis), token fat kid Woody (Caleb Emery), and nerdy kid Faraday (Cory Gruter-Andrew). In typical ’80’s serial killer movie style, we get a voice-over intro from Davey, talking about his seemingly normal neighborhood, noting how ‘…even serial killers live next door to somebody.”
From there, we get a film that wants really badly to capture the nostalgia we ’80’s kids experienced watching ‘Stranger Things’, but it falls a bit short. The dialogue is a somewhat stiff, so when some of the pop culture references come up, they feel almost out of place (along with a few anachronistic slang terms). The relationship between the kids–as well as a shoehorned-in unconvincing older love interest for Davey–isn’t always natural-feeling. Yes, they’re all outcast kids, but how is this patchwork crew such good friends?
Davey indulges in a paranoia-fueled spy fest on his congenial bachelor cop neighbor (Rich Sommer), convinced that he is a serial killer that’s dominating the news headlines. As these things go, of course it seems like he’s just a ridiculous, paranoid kid. His friends are easily convinced to join him in proving the cop is a killer, but most of them eventually begin to doubt.
When the ending comes and Davey is cornered by the killer, that’s where things get interesting–and take a surprisingly dark turn. I appreciated that they didn’t lean on any ’80’s horror film cliches at the end, but my main concern was how long it took them to get there. The interesting stuff is pretty much all in the last half hour of the film.
Overall, ‘Summer of ’84’ was a fun little diversion, but not quite the Stranger Things rival it wanted to be.
JL Jamieson is a strange book nerd who writes technical documents by day, and book news, reviews, and other assorted opinions for you by night. She is working on her own fiction, and spends time making jewelry to sell at local conventions, as well as stalking the social media accounts of all your favorite writers.