Streaming Releases: Nostalgia Trip: Summer of 84 (2018) Reviewed

Summer of '84

From the minds that brought us the over the top, post apocalyptic adventure called Turbo Kid comes a new nostalgia trip that goes by the name Summer of 84. Featuring an era specific soundtrack and tightly executed costume design, this at minimum qualifies as an entertaining time capsule. 

Guys! Guys look! There are some stranger things going on over there!

Playing to all those little things in our brain that made us love Stranger Things on Netflix, this is a mildly hampered effort that delivers some great stuff but also seems frayed around the edges. We get the pulsing yet ambient synth score. We get the four teens that hang out in a tree fort that the dad wants to tear down. And of course we're handed a creepy neighbor that the quad of boys suspect is the evil doer in their otherwise peaceful domain. Everything feels super familiar, which is at times very comforting and at others seems like a copout. Summer of 84 barely scrapes the surface of being original, but is still a cool flick that rides the vintage wave of throwbacks that are happening right now. 

Mixing an '80s vibe with thriller elements and some obvious horror tropes that follow that fine line between plagiarism and homage, this dark venture starts out strong, hits a middling plateau, then brings it home with a totally unexpected conclusion that might just rip your heart out. Anyone that's looking for something to fill some time on a weekend night will definitely enjoy the movie, but may be left wanting afterwards. The acting is rather spectacular from the group of child performers but it's really the content they're given to work with that seems to fail their coordinated efforts to make their friendships seem viably authentic. 

We're so cool. 

While its nowhere near as good as their last project, Summer of 84 still manages to capture the essence of its influences. With a bit of Fright Night crossed with the teenage angst of numerous Reagan era classics and a bit of Hitchcock's Rear Window, this lower budget affair is worth the watch even if it stumbles at times by failing to create characters we can always connect with. As the directors try to recapture that glorious friendship effect we felt with Stand By Me, IT, or even E.T. and The Goonies, something feels strangely amiss. It's almost as if they created a shell that's more about a sense of the '80s than it's about being a feature length film with anything new to say. 

For horror fans or those that enjoy stories about hidden killers, this is definitely something you want to see. I'd say to go in with limited expectations and you'll come out with a mild sense of dread and a feeling of a time long dead.