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31 Days of Halloween

Summer Of 84 Review: Great nostalgia and forced jokes in one cruel summer

As we close in on October 31, AiPT! will be reviewing and recommending various pieces of underappreciated scary media-books, comics, movies, and television-to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.

I’ve had my eye on Summer Of 84 for a while. The movie poster is beautiful. It features a missing child ad on a milk carton, which is surrounded with blood. Finally, I got the spare time to give this film a watch and I have to say that it wasn’t bad; it wasn’t fantastic either, but it was a decent flick.

Summer Of 84 begins by introducing its main protagonist, a teenage paper boy who is obsessed with conspiracies. His name is Davey, and he is portrayed by Graham Verchere. Over the summer, he and his friends begin to suspect that their neighbor Officer Mackey, played by Rich Sommer, is a serial killer, so they spend their break trying to gather evidence to prove it.

Right off the bat, this movie gives off Stranger Things vibes. They’ve both got that nostalgic eighties feel to them, and like the hit Netflix original series, Summer Of 84 does it well. One thing that was missing, however, was the classic eighties sound that I was hoping for. Although the synth-centered style was wonderful and fitting, I would’ve also like to hear a mixture of that with some more recognizable songs from music director Le Matos so that I could be fully immersed in the story that first-time screenwriters Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith created.

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Although a nice first run, Leslie’s and Smith’s script had some issues. Summer Of 84 belongs to the horror genre when, in retrospect, it contains very little aspects of such. The scares were few and far between, and each one was expected. There were more sex jokes than there were frightening scenes. The script was plagued with these, but they didn’t come off as humorous as in other films that used them. For example, in 2017’s It remake of the classic book-turned-movie, Finn Wolfhard’s character Richie frequently makes sex jokes, and it only makes him more lovable. However, in Summer Of 84, there were so many that they started to come off as forced and, just like in real life, they stopped being funny.

Another issue was that the characters weren’t well-developed, and what you do learn about a character’s background is only relevant to the current scene and is never brought up again or needed for any other aspect of the film. For example, Eats’ (Judah Lewis) parents frequently (presumably) get into vicious arguments with one another, but you only learn this towards the end of the movie when he uses this as an excuse to leave his post that he was supposed to be spying on his neighbor from to stay the night at a friend’s house.

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Another script flaw is that this mystery-thriller’s plot displays a promising start, but loses its charm towards the end. When the serial killer’s identity is exposed, the film’s pacing falters and it feels as though the long-anticipated climax ends before it even has the chance to properly begin. Afterwards, Summer Of 84 takes a page from the book of horror clichés and has the killer resurface for one last attempt at revenge. Although interesting enough to earn a pass, this scene is rushed as well. We’re hardly given enough time to experience any bit of suspense before this, too, comes to a conclusion.

I enjoyed this movie and the time I spent watching the story unfold. It had its problems, but it was still an exciting flick about a ragtag group of kids who, during one summer in the eighties, believe that their neighbor is a cold-blooded murderer.

Summer of 84
Is it good?
'Stranger Things' meets 'Disturbia' in this mystery-thriller, which despite its imperfections, it's still a fun and nostalgic watch.
A fun mystery
Forced humor
Few scares
Underdeveloped characters
Rushed ending
Buy Now

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