Movie Review: Summer of 84

 

SUMMER OF 84 REVIEW

Starring: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, and Rich Sommer
Directed By: Francois Simard and others
Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour 45 minutes

 

          Summer of 84 is a fun little movie out of Sundance that just came out a week or so ago.  Was playing here last week in Omaha.  Not in a theater near here.  But I actually rented it on Amazon.  One of those rent it while it’s in theaters deals.  More cost effective than heading to the theater.  Obviously I prefer going out to the movies, but this is new compromise between the two.

          The neighborhood kids think their police officer neighbor is a serial killer.  So they spend their summer spying on him to prove to everyone that he is.  Only the clues are scarce and drying up.  This movie pulls from quite a few different genres to create a neat mix of tastes.  By no means is this a straight up horror movie.  No one jumps out at you to scare you.  There’s really just a tension in the air.  A feeling throughout the film.  We spend a summer with some neighbor kids, so you’ve got components of Stand By Me, IT, Stranger Things, The Sandlot.  It’s fun, it’s light.  The kids pick on each other and curse a lot.  They are spying on the neighbors so you’ve got Hitchcock-ian elements as well. Rear Window comes to mind almost immediately.  And the many many parodies and knock offs of that classic.

          This movie is riddled with clichés and 99 percent of the time that is an insult, but here is a great compliment.  You instantly feel comfortable hanging out with these kids.  Everything feels familiar.  Like wrapping yourself in an old blanket. We’re pushing out familiar tropes and building upon them.         

Summer of 84 ebbs and flows in a way that works.  It works towards solving the mystery and when it takes a break from that.  It’s entertaining along the way.  Tight pacing.  Moves pretty quick.  Less than two hours here.  Just as it starts to get boring in the middle, maybe two-thirds of the way through, it picks back up, so just hang in if you’re feeling it drag.

I thought I was getting a straight up horror movie based on the marketing for this, but instead it’s a fun mystery movie.  Definitely gets bloody towards the end.  In somewhat shocking ways.  I didn’t see it coming, I’ll admit.  I enjoyed the ending.

And then there’s an epilogue.  I didn’t care for this at all.  It ends on a real downer note.  After being enjoyable and fun for 95 minutes, the last 2 or 3 minutes was a real bring down.  Summer of 84 didn’t stick the landing for me. 

Directed by a French-Canadian trio, why a movie needs 3 directors, I don’t know, but they’re pretty capable craftsmen.  No real actors of note in this one.  Rich Somer who plays the neighbor police officer who is under suspicion is probably the most familiar.  He’s on the Netflix series, GLOW, Doug in The Devil Wears Prada, and Harry Crane from Mad Men.

Normally, I do a lot of research for movies.  Who’s in that?  What’s that about?  Things like that.  But I went in pretty blind.  Good cover artwork pulled me in.  I watched a trailer and thought I’d give it a go.  I was just sitting at home night and put it on.  Can’t say I was disappointed by any means.  I didn’t love it.  I don’t ever need to see it again.  But I enjoyed the ride.  That’s all I’m really looking for.  Don’t plan your day around this movie. If you come across it, it looks interesting to you.  Check it out one rainy afternoon.  You might like what you see.

 

 

On a scale of "See It/Stream It/Skip It", I would vote that you stream it.

 

If you liked IT, Stranger Things, or Rear Window you might like Summer of 84

 

3 out of 5 stars

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