Summer of 84 (2018) is another entry in the ‘80s nostalgia teenage story that I was really excited to jump into. Unlike many of the other iterations, this one did not work for me at all. This film spun its tires for two acts before finally peeling out and slamming into a telephone pole for the third.
Summer of 84 was a challenge to get through
Summer of 84 centers around Davey Armstrong (Graham Verchere) and his friends, Tommy ‘Eats’ Eaton (Judah Lewis), Dale ‘Woody’ Woodworth (Caleb Emery), and Curtis Farraday (Cory Gruter-Andrew), who decide to investigate a neighbor they suspect may be the area’s serial killer. The big catch is this neighbor is a respected police officer, so they know they have to find hard evidence before telling anyone else.
The biggest issue started right out of the gate; I never bought into their friendship. It’s odd, though, as some of my issues with the friendship here have not bothered me when done in similar fashion in other films. Eats is the first one that I never understood how his dynamic fit in. A little bit of backstory of how he ended up the cool guy in a group of nerds would have helped. There is a scene late in the film that seems to imply one motive, but I’d already checked out at that point, so it didn’t do anything to move me in that direction. Woody does make perfect sense as his story develops a bit more, although the reasons for his home life struggles also felt like an afterthought. Farraday was too unlikeable, and definitely didn’t resonate with me in any way – but the weakest link was Davey. We’re told he is “obsessed” and while there is visual evidence to support that claim, I never believed it. It felt like a necessary plot contrivance to move their story forward, even though it moved excruciatingly slow.
That enters into my biggest issue with this film – so little actually happens, that the entire time I was watching the film could be likened to that feeling of having an itch that you just can’t reach. This movie frames that unscratchable annoyance as a mystery, but it’s really not…it’s a way of turning a short story into a feature film that wants to be a mixture of Rear Window and Fright Night packaged in Stranger Things that ends with a shock. I would have been much happier watching any of the other films (or show), which clearly inspired this one, but was definitely felt like it missed the point of the others.
Summer of 84 ended up being a film I wish I’d not spent the time with. It definitely didn’t work for me, and that was the biggest shock I was served. On paper, this film should be one of my favorites of the year, but in the application, it is not one I can recommend. Summer of 84 earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.