We watched Summer of 84 on Shudder, and it was nostalgia-rific. Teenager Davey Armstrong is mired in conspiracy theories and the Weekly World News stories. Davey begins to suspect that a neighboring police officer is a serial killer who targets kids in the Cape May Oregon area (which is made up) called, “The Cape May Slayer. With some help from his friends, Davey begins investigating the perp, which eventually turns into a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
Summer of 84 Overview
Summer of 84 was a pretty fun nostalgia trip. This isn’t as crazy or pandering as movies like Turbo Kid, or Ready Player One, which seeks to pile on all the nostalgia they can. Instead, this movie takes a close look at a boring old summer turned exciting, aka dangerous. It’s very similar in feel to Stranger Things. It’s basically a Stranger Things remake of Rear Window.
While it slumps a bit in the middle, it holds up well and is able to pull off a high-quality production. In fact all of the Shudder exclusives I’ve watched so far have been worth my time.
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Summer of 84 Spoilers
To me, it’s always impressive when a movie seeks to create a new town that doesn’t exist in real life, and Ipswich, Oregon is no different. I’m a Washingtonian, but I live right next to Oregon and have most of my life, and I was tricked by Summer of 84 into believing that not only Ipswich existed, but it’s geographical location of Cape May existed when it does not. This speaks to the authentic feeling that this movie portrays. It’s authentic in its location, and in the believable characters.
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The sets were done well, which is always impressive to me in these period piece movies, even if the period is only the 80’s.
The soundtrack is pretty much what you would expect it to be with lots of edgy, synth wave and Kavinsky-esque tracks in the original score.
Let’s take a look at the main character, Davey (played by Graham Verchere of The Good Doctor). Davey is the quintessential 80’s movie star character – think Elliot in E.T. The Extraterrestrial. He’s slight of build, he’s relatable to the every-man, dorks but not jocks, and basically the human equivalent of vanilla ice cream.
Davey’s three friends fill the appropriate roles: you have the nerd, Curtis (played by Cory Gruter-Andrew), the bad boy Tommy (played by Judah Lewis of The Babysitter), and fatty, fatty two by four Dale (played by Caleb Emery). These friends provide all the humor in the movie via boys-will-be-boys styles masturbation and your mom jokes. The humor is juvenile, but it feels like it’s in the right place.
The next door neighbor/heart-throb is Nikki (played by the beautiful Tiera Skovbye).
Mackey (played admirably by Rich Sommer who has done a bunch of shows you’ve seen) is the ultimate foil. He is a cop. They guess it’s him early on in the movie, leading you to believe that it’s probably not him – but it is – but is it?
Ultimately the boys do their best to prove that it’s Mackey until Mackey takes matters into his own hands as a police officer. He decides to find a patsy to pin the murders on and is celebrated as the man who found the Cape May Slayer.
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The capture of the fake Cape May Slayer kicks the boys into high gear, and they decide to break into Mackey’s house where they find a room full of a few of his victims, both alive and dead.
At this point, the movie flips a switch. Mackey goes on the lamb and eventually grabs Davey and Caleb, the large lad, and plays a big game of manhunt with them.
This is where the movie turns into a hard horror. Mackey leaves Davey with a truly disturbing monologue that would leave any kid shaking in their boots.
The two problems that I had with Summer of 84:
- The pacing wasn’t terrible, but it certainly could have been faster. They could have kept it at this pace if they had done thrown a little bit more to the audience in terms of fun visuals or intriguing dialog.
- The suspense falls flat until the last act of the movie, which means it’s mostly a love story and a fun whodunit until then. The jump scares are excessively loud and completely dangling in the wind. Most of the jump scares have no build up and therefore aren’t releasing any audience tension. The effect is minor confusion.
Summer of 84 was a fun movie that any casual fan of horror would enjoy. If you get done with Stranger Things and feel like you need more 80’s nostalgia, this is a great movie to scratch that itch.