Summer of 84 (2018)

Summer of 84It’s the summer of 1984, where there are no mobile phones, no TikTok, and kids actually spend time together outside. What a time to be young! A fifteen year old, Davey Armstrong, works a paper route and spends time with his friends Dale, Curtis and Tommy. They live in Cape May, where a total of thirteen teenage boys have disappeared over the course of a decade. None of their disappearances have ever been connected, but after a local newspaper receives an anonymous letter from someone claiming to be their killer, or the Cape May Slayer, Davey starts suspecting his neighbor Wayne Mackey who is a popular police officer. His friends don’t put much value into his suspicions, though, as Davey is known for being easily drawn to all kinds of conspiracy theories and urban legends. Things change when a boy who Davey claims was inside Mackey’s house, ends up on a milk carton just a few days later. His friends agree to help him with the investigation of his suspicious neighbor, in the hopes of revealing him as the Cape May Slayer.


Summer of 84 is a horror film from 2018, directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissel. It was written by Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, to a fair amount of praise as many of the critics called it one of the best horror films of 2018. Since the main cast in the movie are teenagers and it’s set in the 80’s, some may think of the popular Netflix show Stranger Things, but they can’t really be compared. Summer of 84 is more like The Goonies turned into a mystery thriller, and while you’ll definitely get your fair share of the 80’s with the fitting soundtrack and certain elements from that era, this movie ventures into a much darker road.


As we follow Davey and his friends, we watch them do regular stuff like meeting in their tree house, watch dirty magazines, talk about who is the hottest girls in the neighborhood, and so on. Just normal teenage-boy stuff. When their attention is shifted onto a possible serial killer next door, we still have a bit of that whimsical Goonies-vibe. You’re not really sure what to expect, which makes it quite suspenseful. It also has quite a few little easter eggs: one of the missing boy posters displays one of John Wayne Gacy’s victims, and when the boys are in the clubhouse Tommy drinks from a bottle of MacReady’s Whiskey, which is a nod to The Thing (1982). While the first part of the movie builds up rather innocently when the kids are trying to figure out if Mackey really is a serial killer, offering both suspense and a few lighthearted chuckles here and there, it pretty much makes a 180 during the final act.


Summer of 84 is not your typical serial killer film, but offers something quite suspenseful and enjoyable. While some people really hated the ending of the movie, to the point where some said it literally ruined the entire movie for them, I personally found the choice for a dark and somewhat edgy ending to ground the movie into even more horror themed realism, and I’m glad they had the balls to do it this way.


Summer of 84


Directors: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell
Writers: Matt Leslie, Stephen J. Smith
Country & year: Canada, 2018
Actors: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew, Tiera Skovbye, Rich Sommer, Jason Gray-Stanford, Shauna Johannesen, William MacDonald, Harrison Houde



Vanja Ghoul







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