Summer of 84
|Summer of 84|
|Music by||Le Matos|
|Edited by||Austin Andrews|
|Distributed by||Gunpowder & Sky|
Summer of 84 is a 2018 Canadian horror mystery film directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell. The film stars Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Jason Gray-Stanford, Tiera Skovbye, and Rich Sommer.
Fifteen-year-old Davey Armstrong, the son of a journalist who breaks the story, suspects that his neighbor Wayne Mackey, a popular police officer in their hometown of Ipswich, is the Cape May Slayer. Davey's friends—Dale "Woody" Woodworth, Curtis Farraday, and Tommy "Eats" Eaton—reject this theory, on account of Davey's reputation for conspiracy theories and urban legends.
However, when a boy Davey sees inside Mackey's house appears on the back of a milk carton days later, they agree to help him investigate.
The boys document Mackey's daily routine and discover many suspicious activities—Mackey regularly purchases gardening tools and bags of soil, brings a duffel bag to work every day, and goes on routine late-night jogs. One night, when the friends stake out Mackey's house under the guise of a game of manhunt, Mackey witnesses Davey plant a walkie-talkie outside his window, leaving Davey worried that he is becoming suspicious.
Later, Woody and Farraday discover a second vehicle and canisters of sodium hydroxide in a self-storage room owned by Mackey, and Davey and Eats discover the bloodstained shirt of the missing boy, hidden in Mackey's garden shed.
They present their evidence to Davey's parents, who are outraged at the boys, calling their investigation vandalism. Mr. Armstrong brings the boys to Mackey's house and has them apologize. Mackey, who claims that the boy seen inside his home was his nephew, expresses no hard feelings, but Davey is grounded.
He later sneaks out with Nikki Kaszuba, his friend and the boys' mutual crush, who insists that Davey abandon the investigation. The next day, Mackey visits Davey's home and attempts to call his nephew as proof of his innocence, but the call is not answered. Davey discovers that Mackey dialed his own home phone number, and relaunches the investigation.
The following day, a suspect is arrested in the Cape May Slayer case, with Mackey the arresting officer. Disgusted, Davey makes plans to break into Mackey's home during the 1984 Cape May Festival. Farraday, who attends the festival as a lookout, discovers that the bags of soil were purchased for a city beautification project, and he and Eats abandon their posts.
Davey, Woody and Nikki enter Mackey's home with Mr. Armstrong's video camera and explore a locked room in the basement, apparently decorated to resemble Mackey's childhood room. They enter an adjoining bathroom and are horrified to find the missing boy's dessicated corpse in the bathtub, along with a still-living recent abductee. They present their footage to the Ipswich Police Department, who issue an APB on Mackey.
That night, Mackey abducts Davey and Woody, and abandons them in his cruiser on an offshore island, announcing that they are to play a game of manhunt. The boys flee into the wilderness as Mackey pursues, but lose their footing on a corpse dump. Davey distracts Mackey long enough for Woody to make a break for the cruiser, but Mackey overpowers Woody and slits his throat. He corners Davey, poised to kill, but decides instead to spare him — to leave him paranoid and constantly expectant for Mackey's eventual return.
Rescued and returned to a normal life, Davey retraces his morning paperboy route, passing the abandoned home of a missing neighborhood boy; Eats's house, trashed by his fighting parents; and Mackey's house, plastered with police tape. He unfurls a newspaper, the headline announcing that the Cape May Slayer is still at large.
- Graham Verchere as Davey Armstrong
- Judah Lewis as Tommy "Eats" Eaton
- Caleb Emery as Dale "Woody" Woodworth
- Cory Gruter-Andrew as Curtis Farraday
- Tiera Skovbye as Nikki Kaszuba
- Rich Sommer as Wayne Mackey
- Jason Gray-Stanford as Randall Armstrong
- Shauna Johannesen as Sheila Armstrong
- J. Alex Brinson as Officer Cole
- Harrison Houde as Bobby
- Mark Brandon as News Anchor
- Susie Castillo as Brenda Woodworth
- William MacDonald as Sheriff Caldwell
Reviews from the Sundance Film Festival were mixed. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 65%, based on 31 reviews with an average rating of 6.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Summer of '84 suffers from an overreliance on nostalgia for its titular decade, but a number of effective jolts may still satisfy genre enthusiasts." Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 8 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
JoBlo's Movie Emporium called the ending "an inspired wrap-up" and scored it 8/10. Bloody Disgusting's Fred Topel said it "hit the sweet spot for me" and expressed a need to "talk about it excessively". Film Threat said it "lulled you into a false sense of security and banality before slamming you into a brilliantly dark chilling finale. You won't be disappointed. 8/10." Daily Dead found "even though the story does take a bit too long to get things moving, that's really just me nitpicking at the greatness that is Summer of "84." Pop Matters' JR Kinnard said it was "a trashy classic that will absolutely rock midnight movie houses. 8/10".
Variety found the film "neither funny nor scary enough to leave a lasting impression" and "more slowly paced than necessary, and those seeking horror content will find the payoff underwhelming after a protracted, mild buildup" and that "the leisurely progress isn't justified by any well-developed subplots, or by much suspense — there’s never a doubt who the perp is, and apart from a couple of false-flag jump scares, little real peril surfaces until quite late." The review noted that it was unclear if the script by Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith was intended "to be played for satire, straight suspense, or a mixture of both.". Collider scored it "F" with no positive notes. 
The film won Best Screenplay for Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith at Cinepocalypse festival in Chicago.
- Harvey, Dennis (January 25, 2018). "Sundance Film Review: 'Summer of '84'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- "Summer of 84". Gunpowder & Sky. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
- "Summer of '84". Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
- Hemmert, Kylie (June 29, 2018). "A Serial Killer is on the Loose in the Summer of '84 Trailer". ComingSoon.net. CraveOnline Media. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
- McNary, Dave (July 12, 2017). "Rich Sommer, Tiera Skovbye to Star in Horror Movie 'Summer of '84' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
- "2018 Sundance Film Festival: Feature Films Announced". Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
- "Summer of '84 (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
- "Summer of 84 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
- Bumbray, Chris (January 24, 2018). "Review: Summer of '84 (Sundance)". JoBlo.com. Joblo Media. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- Topel, Fred (January 26, 2018). "[Sundance Review] 'Summer of '84' Hits Nostalgia Sweet Spot". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- Bench, Anthony Ray (January 27, 2018). "Summer of '84". Film Threat. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- Wixon, Heather (January 28, 2018). "Sundance 2018 Review: SUMMER OF '84 is a Brutally Fun and Heartbreaking Blast from the Past". Daily Dead. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- Kinnard, JR (January 25, 2018). "Sundance 2018: 'Summer of '84' + 'Eighth Grade'". PopMatters. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- Goldberg, Matt (January 23, 2018). "Summer of '84: Imagine Stranger Things at its Worst". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- Miska, Brad (June 29, 2018). "The Captain wins "Best Film" at Music Box's Cinepocalypse, Fest Shatters Attendance Record!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
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