Summer of 84 ★★★★

Directed by a trio of newcomers (François Simard, Anouk Whissell & Yoann-Karl Whissell) and starring a host of unknowns I must admit the only real thing that attracted me to 'Summer of 84' was the cover art which in my experience is usually pretty misleading.

Let's be honest both the film and TV market has for some time now been awash to the point of saturation with 80's set or inspired horrors, comedies, dramas etc to such an extent that nostalgic nods to that decade have become a genre in itself. But that being said I've really enjoyed quite a lot of them with shows such as Stranger Things and Red Oaks as well as movie efforts including 'The Final Girls' (2015) and 'The Guest' (2014) immediately coming to mind.

Any doubt I had over the merits of the quality of what I was about to watch here was laid to rest within the first 10 mins. Simply put the film is able to capture that rare feeling of authenticity to the decade in which it is set with every aspect of the costumes, set dressing and most importantly the cinematography.

That aside the plot is pretty simple. A serial killer is on the loose in a humdrum suburban town and local paperboy Davey Armstrong (Graham Verchere) suspects the nice as pie cop who lives across the road Mr Mackey (Rich Sommer) as the chief suspect based purely on his typical teenage boy's overactive imagination as well as intuition after noticing a few peculiarities in his neighbours recent behaviour.

Along with a trio of his best friends, they attempt to uncover the horrible truth which they suspect exists behind Mr.Mackey's too good to be true nice guy facade and put an end to a murder spree, the victims of which have been boys of their very own age.

Immediate comparisons will be drawn with 'Disturbia' (2007) - though that really was itself more of a modern updating of the Hitchcock classic 'Rear Window' (1954) - and there are even elements of 'Fright Night' (1985)', 'The Monster Squad' (1987) and 'The 'Burbs' (1989) here but what sets the movie apart from similar efforts both in the past and present is its pretty unconventional and shocking conclusion.

It's perfectly cast with Sommer a standout as the mild-mannered seemingly innocent victim of the boys apparently misplaced innuendo and is also pristinely assembled which is pretty remarkable considering it was directed by committee going by the number of names attached to the role.

However 'Summer of 84's' greatest achievement is that feeling of genuine belonging to a time and place - in relation to this particular decade I can only recall this being similarly achieved by Ti West's horror 'The House of the Devil' (2009) - which gives you that feeling that you are watching a genuine extension of the 80's horror genre as opposed to just a tribute to or pastiche of it.

Paul Anthony liked these reviews