Tuesday, November 6, 2018

In short: Summer of 84 (2018)

When he sees a the picture of a disappeared kid on a milk carton, and remembers having seen him one night in the home of his neighbour, the police officer Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer), conspiracy and weird shit obsessed teenager Davey (Graham Verchere) becomes convinced Mackey is a serial killer.

Davey ropes in his trio of best friends to spy on Mackey, and really, what happens then is – until the final five minutes – exactly the film you picture now in your head, for Summer of 84’s director trio François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell seem to have set out to make the most generic film in the sub-genre of post-Stranger Things 80s retro fantastika humanly achievable. There is not a single character, not a plot beat apart from the ending, no scene, nothing whatsoever in this movie that isn’t desperately trying to demonstrate this is indeed a film made in the spirit of 1984. Unlike in Stranger Things there is nothing here beyond cloying nostalgia and formal mimicry, no breath of air, not even a little distance to the mores of the film’s time, and certainly no commentary on them (unlike in films actually made in 1984). Worse, it’s the imitation of a film so generically 1984, nobody in 1984 would have shot it fearing its audience would get bored.

Frankly, I don’t see what the point of the film is at all. Wallowing in nostalgia for the depiction of not perfectly happy childhoods as seen in other movies instead of trying to actually speak about these childhoods, not their portrayal? Making a thriller where every single plot beat is so expected the film might as well not exist beyond its basic idea? And why then end the film on a note that’s absolutely one from a film made in 2018 but that doesn’t really comment on what came before thematically? Perhaps the final couple of scenes are meant to deconstruct the nostalgia Summer of 84 has been peddling for ninety-five percent of its running time, but to do this effectively, it’s really too little, too late, feeling more like a generic grimdark gesture than anything of substance.

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