by Sandy DeVito
I have a feeling most people are going to be tempted, after watching the trailer for Summer of '84, to imply this film from Quebecois' RKSS (the team behind another 80's nostalgia film, Turbo Kid) is riding on the coattails of It and Stranger Things; and that would sort of be true. But to set the record straight, Turbo Kid came out a year before Stranger Things, and Summer of '84 has been in production as early as 2015. It has the good timing to drop right when 80's media is spectacularly popular again...and perhaps also the bad timing to come right after the particularly sharp triumph of the first half of Muschietti's It films. By which I mean, I have no idea how this film could top that one. I mean, it won't. But it has potential to be great within its own sphere.
I was immediately disappointed to see this film is about yet another group of mostly young boys who are trying to solve a bunch of murders that have been happening in their suburban town. I mean, besides the fact that the murder thing is pretty much exactly how It starts, the stubbornness of sticking to a group of boys without bothering to ever inject more than one girl into the group is so fucking tired. You can still make something of an homage to a time period and modernize it in ways that are interesting and inclusive. Brian K. Vaughan's Paper Girls series of graphic novels is a great example of how to do this. Judging from the trailer, this film also has countless nods to the classic 80's adventure films stuff like it is based on (Stand by Me, there's a kid who wears a leather jacket like Rudy in The Monster Squad, It of course, I'm sure there are like 35,427,804 other films/scenes/characters/things), something Stranger Things has done to death.
I really like Turbo Kid and found it fresh and unique; I'm hoping RKSS can somehow harness that sense of newness in this project as well, though this film, judging from the trailer, seems like it'll be more conventional. One thing that excites me is a new score by electronic duo Le Matos; I've listened to their soundtrack for Turbo Kid ad nauseam (and if you'd heard it, you would too), so the prospect of getting something new from them is exciting. The score, I have no doubt, will be fucking great. As for the rest of it, it remains to be seen if those involved have the script, cast and style to make this more than just another 80's nostalgia rehash that someone else has already done better. Watch the teaser below.
Summer of '84 premiered at Sundance on January 22, 2018.