Summer of 84 (2018)

summerof84

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Take one part Hardy Boys, one part coming of age film, and one part intense thriller and you have the latest thriller from the trio known as RKSS.

Davey Armstrong is your ordinary 15-year old paperboy in the small town of Ipwisch, Oregon. However, he has a passion for mysteries and investigations. He has been catching up on the Cape May Killer, who is suspected of killing 15 young boys but has never been caught. One day, when he goes to the house of his neighbor, police officer Mackey, he notices a dark locked door. From there, Davey’s life begins to change.

While Davey spends time with his friends Eats, Woody, and Farraday playing the late night game of Manhunt, he also has a bit of a crush on Nikki Kaszuba, a DJ at the local bowling alley. Nikki’s parents are on the verge of divorce and she sees Davey as the only person who cares about her. Meanwhile, Davey decides to investigate Mackey as a possible suspect of being the long missing Cape May Killer. However, as Davey and his friends come closer to see if his suspicions are correct, things begin to unravel and the lives of everyone will change forever.

The trio of François Simard and siblings Anouk and Yoann-Karl Whissell, affectionately known as RKSS, made waves when their 2015 film Turbo Kid gained quite a following. For their latest film, they execute a meshing of The Hardy Boys, a coming of age film, and a very intense serial killer film without relying on overdosing on blood and rely more on psychological horror. And the meshing is both fun and at times, intriguing.

Graham Verchere is the driving force of the film as Davey, our protagonist whose character will remind those of Charley Brewster in Fright Night. However, replace vampires with a serial killer. What is interesting is that while Davey decides to convince his eclectic group of friends to help him investigate, he seems to have time for being normal teenager as well. The chemistry between Verchere with co-stars Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, and Cory Gruter-Andrew seems so natural that they could pass off as off-screen buddies. His chemistry with Tiera Skovbye is quite natural as well as a kid whose crush truly has respect for him and even goes as far as possibly becoming an eventual romantic interest from the way things begin to look.

While the coming of age part seems great, there is also that intensity of the film when it comes to the investigation of possibly determining hat Davey’s neighbor is a serial killer. To make matters worse, the suspect is a police officer. This is truly against typecast for Rich Sommer, a usually known comic actor, brings out both the likable and the not-so-likable as Officer Mackey. His likable side seems to get the best of the neighborhood kids, even offering a group some refreshments while they play ball in front of his house. However, as the film goes deeper, it is clear that Mackey may not be the man he seems to be, leading to a bit of intensity when it comes to his scenes with Davey. And of that’s not enough, there is a bit of predictability but it becomes quite intense by the final reel and becomes unexpected in terms of taking that intensity and going in an unexpected direction.

Summer of 84, RKSS’s latest film, is engaging, fun, and very intense. The cast give it their all and while there is the obvious, there is also the not so obvious and it is the latter that makes this a cut above others.

WFG RATING: B+

Gunpowder and Sky presents in association with Brightlight Pictures an RKSS Film. Directors: François Simard and siblings Anouk and Yoann-Karl Whissell. Producers: Matt Leslie, Jameson Parker, Ryan Silva, Van Toffler, and Cody Zwieg. Writers: Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith. Cinematography: Jean-Philippe Bernier. Editing: Austin Andrews.

Cast: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew, Rich Sommer, Tiera Skovbye, Jason Gray-Stanford, Shauna Johannesen, William McDonald.

The film will be released in select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on August 10.

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