Summer of 84 ★★

The success of Netflix’s supernatural-horror series and 1980s nostalgia contraption 'Stranger Things' virtually guaranteed the eventual arrival of imitators, but it’s sort of astonishing just how shameless 'Summer of 84' is about mimicking the show’s formula, at least superficially. Miming James Stewart in 'Rear Window', gawky Davey (Graham Berchere) begins to suspect that his policeman neighbor Mr. Mackey (Rich Sommer) is a child-murderer, largely based on circumstantial evidence. Besides a quartet of geeky young teens on BMX bikes, the film boasts a synth-heavy score and plenty of period detail that clumsily calls attention to itself. Directing trio François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell exploited a similar retro vibe in the giddy, gonzo 'Turbo Kid' (2015), but here it feels somewhat superfluous, tacked onto a standard serial-killer-next-door thriller. The filmmakers never manage to rise above the screenplay’s stale premise and clunky archetypes, but they do keep the viewer guessing throughout, and conclude the story on an unexpectedly bleak, ambiguous note.