The 1980’s has become a ‘flavour of the month’ for many a medium in the 21st century. Maybe it’s because the filmmakers of today were the children of the 1980s, or maybe it’s just because the 1980’s is one of the most idealised periods of time. Children riding on bikes, nothing to be scared of. However, Summer of 84 would disagree that there’s nothing for kids to be scared of, even in the 80s.
Summer of 84 follows a group of kids as they try to prove that their next door neighbour, Mr Mackey, is a notorious serial killer. As with all good homages to the 80s, it’s got good music, bad fashion and a lot of walkie talkies.
This movie is really good fun. It’s gory, it’s surprising and it’s funny – it ticks all of the boxes. Davey, Eats, Woody and Farraday are all super convincing as best friends, bantering and messing about with each other like most 15 year old boys do. It’s this camaraderie that really provides a solid base for the movie and the plot to work from.
The dynamic between the four of them is really believable. Even for those who weren’t a teenager in the 1980s, it is really descriptive and detailed in its portrayal, setting the scene so well that you could believe this movie might actually be from 30-odd years ago.
Farraday is the geek, Woody is the friend who is obsessed with girls, and Eats is the cool juvenile delinquent. They all have a place in the group, and they all have a place in the movie. It’s not often that they each play a key role in the movie, but they do, and the film really benefits from this.
Davey (Graham Verchere) is the arguable leader of the group, and it’s him that convinces the others that Mr Mackey isn’t as nice as he might seem. He’s sharp, determined and a little bit too persistent for his own good, and this really drives the movie forward.
As much as this movie might want to come across as a horror, it definitely isn’t. Although it’s gory, and even though the villain is of the purebred evil kind, it’s more fun than scary. At best, this movie is creepy. The scenes in Mr Mackey’s house are eerie, especially at the climax of the conspiracy theory.
However, it lacks a bit of momentum. Everything happens in the last 20 minutes of the movie. The majority of the movie is based on their research and them spying on the possible murderer. All of the drama and the shocking moments happen in such quick succession it detracts from the build up that the rest of the movie has created.
Even with the climax, it’s not as exciting as you would expect. Although there are a few gasp-worthy moments, there are also a lot of predictable ones. A lot of the clues that lead up to the discovery of the murderer are self-explanatory, and it becomes clear that things are just as they seem, and the kids are pretty much right about everything.
However, if you can get over the predictability of it, this movie will keep you entertained for its full one hour 45 minute running time. It’s nostalgic, fun and easy to watch. It helps that it’s generally quite a well made film as well. It’s got a killer score, with the 80s synth reverberating around the scenes of blood and gore. It really transports you to that setting, and does it so easily.
As well as this, the cinematography is very atmospheric. Lots of dark shots, lots of shots that could suggest a jump scare. Even though they never come, it helps to build a tension around the big reveal which, ultimately, is the best part of the movie itself.
Overall, this movie is a lot of fun. It’s got blood, it’s got surprises and it’s got nostalgia. It’s well acted, and if you can get past the super long build up, it’s definitely worth a watch. So, if you’re ever thinking about what to watch one evening, why not go back in time, and solve a murder? It’s probably going to be more interesting than a lot of other suggestions.