Writer: Matt Leslie, Stephen J Smith (Screenplay)
Starring: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew, Tiera Skovbye, Rich Sommer, Jason Gray-Stanford
Plot: 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.
Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Stranger Things Only Duller
Story: Summer of 84 starts when Davey Armstrong (Verchere) learns that his neighbourhood has a potential serial killer after a string of boy his own age have gone missing, joined by his best friends Tommy (Lewis), Dale (Emery) and Curtis (Gruter-Andrew), they investigate the number one suspect that Davey believes the killer is, local model police officer Wayne Mackey (Sommer).
Following Wayne’s daily routine to learn the boys start to gather evidence, join by the dream next door neighbour Nikki (Skovbye) the little gang has one summer to locate the serial killer and save themselves from the fate of many in the neighbourhood.
Thoughts on Summer of 84
Characters – Davey Armstrong is the leader of the group, he is the one that suspected his neighbour and gets his group to help him investigate, he has the romantic angle without making him the most resourceful of the group. Tommy tries to play off like the bad boy of the group, he seems to like ‘your mum’ jokes and while his character seems different you will get tired of his mentality. Dale is the big guy, he has his own problems at home with his mother over committed working hours. Curtis is the fourth member of the gang, he seems like the smartest though doesn’t get much put out there. Nikki is the girl next door that the boys who have a crush on, she has been friends with Davey for years and it becomes clear there is something between the two, just before she goes off because of her family’s divorce. Wayne Mackey is the police officer suspected of being the killer by the kids, he is a lonely man that does a lot of gardening which makes him seem more suspicious, but with his place in the law one that is harder to suspect.
Performances – The performances from the young actors are good for the most part, we believe their chemistry, determination to solve the missing persons case and this being a summer of adventure. The problem comes up more when we look at the script that leaves the dialogue a times feeling flat between them.
Story – The story here follows a group of five teenagers that start investigating the disappearance of local school boys believing to be proving who the killer truly is, even when everyone doesn’t believe them. The story has the coming of age vibes that ‘Stranger Things’ & ‘It’ have bought us with the 80s background and pop-culture references coming left right a centre. You could mix in an element of ‘Rear Window’ giving us the idea of paranoia about someone being a killer too. The problems with the story come from the lazy insulting jokes between the boys and the fact we never get to a stage where anybody could be the killer, a healthy twist in the story would bring us a few suspects which could add doubt to the suspicions going on. By trying to capitalize on the in era that has struck up the fans of recent years, again this gives us weakness because kids wouldn’t be able to watch this and adults just wouldn’t enjoy this on the levels of the previous 80s memory lane films.
Horror/Mystery – The horror elements in this film don’t ever feel scary or worrying, the neighbourhood never feels in terror even after double figures of boys going missing, the mystery never feels strong either as we watch the boys investigate one person over anybody else seemingly even looking at the case.
Settings – The 80s setting works for the most part, though it has become one we have seen too often in recent years, we hit a small-town America which is meant to have model citizens only to have a killer living among them.
Special Effects – The effect are simple enough, we don’t need them for the most part, but when used they seem faultless.
Final Thoughts – This is a movie trying to capture the magic of Stranger Things only to miss for the most part, it has a style which feels like a kids movie only to be sold to adults.
Overall: Doesn’t have that sparkle.