When you mix Stranger Things with IT (2017) you basically get Summer of 84 by Gunpowder & Sky. That is the only and last time we will compare Summer of 84 to either Stranger Things or IT, we will not be comparing it to anything culture-wise; but instead, reviewing this based on what it accomplishes for the genre. Since Stranger Things was the television series that brought back the genre of the 80s to pop culture, that’s about as much as it did.
The thriller and horror genre in a kids’ point of view has been around for ages. For example, if you think about it The Shining it had the main protagonist (the son), The Breakfast Club while not thriller or horror was centered around high schoolers in the 80s, and don’t get me started on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Most of these films may not be thriller or horror, but they are surrounded by high schoolers, teenagers, and kids. The theme of having children as the main protagonist isn’t new, the original IT and Carrie films are centered around a group of kids.
All of these films were made before the television series, Stranger Things even existed. If you do want to talk about what created the genre, talk about where it started. Don’t compare, talk about the genre of culture mediums, even Paper Girls is a popular comic series set in the 80s about a group of gal-pals on bikes. The genre is insanely popular because of where it originated; so, therefore, we won’t be talking much about Stranger Things or newer pop culture moments for the genre. We will, however, talk about Summer of 84.
The Gang Is All Here In Summer Of 84
You know the 80s? The summer of everything virginity, newspapers, and murder. We all remember the
Gunpowder & Sky created a limited release of the film during August 10th, however, it also premiered at the 2018 Sundance Festival. In the summer of 84, it is the perfect time to be fifteen years old. You can stay out late, go biking with your friends, and have a free and exhilarating life. However, in this small suburban town, Davey Armstrong — the Mulder of the gang — begins to suspect that his police officer neighbor is a serial killer. Multiple kids continue to go missing and no one has any idea as to who could be doing it. That is when Davey grabs his friends (Tommy, Curtis, Woody, and Nikki) and they start spying on Mackey. But things take a turn for the worst…
The Plot, Writing, & Concept Of Summer Of 84
The concept of the film isn’t new, per se. We have seen it many times in the past decade of culture. However, the film does bring in a new concept to the genre that we know. It added mystery and murder as opposed to the concept of science fiction. While the film itself wasn’t anything crazy or fresh, it was enjoyable to watch. The constant nostalgia of the 80s was a huge plus as well, from Davey’s Reebok
porn magazines; it all added to the dated vibe of the film. The writing was subpar, like we said, nothing absurd was appended other than the actual plot of the film. It was your typical friends solve a murder, one of them actually gets murdered, and thus we leave on a cliffhanger of what happens after the film is over.
There was nothing you could have fixed about the film to make it less subpar. Since the genre has been saturated many times over, it was a given that everyone would compare this to what is out now. It is hard to make something fresh and new for a genre after you have one good thing that basically sells it. Nonetheless, Summer of 84 does a lot of better things for the genre than what we have seen now. It adds a different type of friendship — you still have the stereotypical chubby character that dies in the end, but you don’t have the token African-American kid who adds to the diversity of the friend group. This friend gang was a typical friend group you would see in a suburban area. Not many African-Americans are hanging out in suburbia. Not in the 80s.
Can I Get More Of The Cinematography?
The cinematography of Summer of 84 drives this film home — it is beautifully crafted. Since this is a mystery horror the cinematography truly had to stand out and make us afraid. Essentially, frightened of what was going to happen next with Mackey. The camera angles, with interestingly wide and close-frame shots of Davey, are what tell this story. There are countless shots that would merely look magnificent as poster frames because they are so intriguing.
Production and directing, both, did not lack in any regard. They all went hand-in-hand when it came to the overall viewing of the film. Focusing on certain characters, focusing on Davey in certain scenes, the close-up shot of Nikki — when she told them that Davey was a better man than any of them could be — it was all perfectly crafted. For an indie film, Summer of 84 was truly a pleasure to watch. We understand why it was at the Sundance Fest in 2018.
Was It Good? Was It Bad? What Was Summer Of 84?
It wasn’t bad, by any means, it was quite an enjoyable film. If you want a classic nostalgic film to watch — this is it. Similarly to SLICE, there were pros and cons for the film. In terms of acting, we are spoiled, so when we get anything with subpar acting we riot. The acting wasn’t crazily great or outstanding, it was a bunch of kids acting for what seemed like the third time in their careers. It didn’t make us not watch the film, it still made it viewable. Mackey was subpar as well, he channeled a trope of serial killers and basically showcased that.
His character reminded us of any serial killer from an FBI show on ID. He didn’t truly scare us, we weren’t spooked or scared like we felt like we should have been. However, the film was still enjoyable despite those faults. If a film can still make you watch it, even despite faults that can be a barrier to the film, that is a plus. Summer of 84 is a classic modern 80s film that fulfills exactly what it wanted; it created a delightful story for viewers with a lovable cast of outsiders.
What more could you ask for?