Tag Archives: François Simard

Summer of 84 (2017) Movie Review By Philip Henry

Summer of 84 Review

Directors: Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell
Writers: Matt Leslie, Stephen J. Smith
Stars: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Tiera Skovbye

So with the huge success of Stranger Things on TV and the remake of Stephen King’s IT doing historic things at the box office, I suppose it was inevitable that we were going to get imitators of this formula.

So in Summer of 84 we’ve got a bunch of misfit kids who wouldn’t seem out of place in any King novel; the nerd, the fat kid, the broken-home kid, and our main character, Davey, who’s obsessed with all things weird and supernatural (as well as his sexy next door neighbour). After spotting several suspicious things on his paper route, Davey begins to suspect the cop who lives down the block is actually a serial killer. So along with his friends, he sets out to prove his theory right.

We’ve all seen this kind of film before, so you think you’re on pretty familiar ground, and then the third act happens and you find out you weren’t actually watching the sort of movie you thought you were. The finale of this movie plays with your expectations and subverts them to maximum effect. To say more would be to spoil it, but I will say this movie doesn’t end like any other movie in this genre that I’ve ever seen. For some that change of tone may be jarring, but for me it just made me reappraise what had come before and concede that I’d been duped in the best possible way.

The plot is as old as Rear Window, but the film that it reminded me of most was Joe Dante’s The ‘Burbs, and I don’t think I’m imagining it. At one point the police release the name of a suspect in the killings on TV, and his name is Ray Peterson. Tom Hanks’s character in The ‘Burbs is called Ray Peterson. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

The directors keep the suspense bubbling along nicely, substituting the usual 21st century jump-scares with real old-school tension – there’s a scene in a basement that is a masterclass in upping the fear stakes. The writing is natural and honest, and the love story sub-plot serves to lighten the mood every once in a while. The cast are all unknown to me but excel in their roles, with the boys ribbing on each other like the young leads in Stand By Me. The score pays homage to Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, and lots of other synth-driven horror soundtracks from the 80s and sets the scene perfectly.

A horror connoisseur looking for something a little different inside a familiar wrapper will find much to enjoy here, and though the ending doesn’t provide that ‘everything tied up nicely’ closuresome people crave, I suspect most people will forgive that, because this is a creepy movie that stays with you when you turn out the lights.

Turbo Kid (2015) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Turbo Kid

Directors: François Simard, Anouk Whissell
Writers: François Simard, Anouk Whissell
Stars: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf

Plot:  In a post-apocalyptic wasteland in 1997, a comic book fan adopts the persona of his favourite hero to save his enthusiastic friend and fight a tyrannical overlord.

Running Time: 93 Minutes

IMDB Score: 6.7

Why I Watched It: I wasn’t sure about the film, on one hand I had heard decent genre buzz but the trailer left me not sure and it had 3 directors.

Random Thoughts: So yes three directors and this was a Canada+ New Zealand co-production. Many times filmmakers get the idea to do a retro movie, the idea is solid but hard to pull off cause they’re not trying to do a period piece they’re trying to get a tone and a feel from a different way of filmmaker.  I’ve seen so many movie try to be a cheesy 50′s monster movie and it just ends up being cheap and unfunny.

What I liked: Many times you hear something is an instant cult classic and you just roll your eyes cause classic and instant can’t go to together.  Genre fans and critics tend to get excited easily, everyone wants to find the next hidden cult film and I will say good lordy I think Turbo Kid is a cult movie for sure and it should get a following and they pulled it off by being fun and charming and insane.

First off hats off to them doing practical effects, the gore is so much more fun and it does go back to the 80′s, to not use CGI really does help the feel and the tone of the film, you were never taken out of the film cause you’re just sitting there smiling at the insanity of it all.  The other thing is even with three directors this is a well directed and paced film all of them had to be on the same page you never got the sense of different tones this wasn’t a film that was fighting itself this was a very well told story by filmmakers who knew not only what story they wanted to tell but how they told it.

The reason the film works is the casting here, I hadn’t really seen Chambers or Leboeuf before but both were really good and I think Leboeuf was a huge future ahead of her, she has real good comic timing and she’s quirky to stand out but just plain likeable, Chambers as well very likeable and neither camped it up they played this straight and it worked real well they fleshed out characters in a very strange film.  Aaron Jeffery at first seemed bland to me but the more he was in it the more he seemed charming and by the end I liked his character.  I think it was a clever twist to have the Chambers character and the Jeffery character in the same film cause they’re both kind of apocalyptic movie arch types, we kind of got two leads.  Now the best for last an actor who takes the movie to another level the amazing Michael Ironside, being a Canadian I’ve seen him since I was a kid and the guy has never given a bad performance, he’s a great actor and maybe one of the best genre actors working today, go to IMDB and just seem all his genre titles and here he doesn’t camp it up he plays a very good bad guy here, you kind of like him, Ironside has that great ability to be very watchable even though you hope his character dies soon.

The story moves very well, they do their world building fast, we get a sense of the world and it does really feel like an 80′s movie but it’s not campy it’s well done, and even though you can tell they didn’t have a lot of money it never hurts the film is like they had the right amount of money for the story they wanted to tell.  Also you good tell the directors liked this kind of film they weren’t doing it has a rip off but more of an homage.

What I Didn’t Like: Not much, that’s nice to say ever once in awhile.  Sure it looked cheap at times and sure some of the supporting actors weren’t great but all of that is part of the film’s charm.  This is the type of film where genre fans will love it warts and all and other will just say they don’t get it, not there cup of tea and I get it, but for me there isn’t much wrong with this crazy film.

Final Thoughts: If you even remotely think you might like this or this is in your wheelhouse please give it a watch it’s a charming and fun little romp and truly they don’t make movies like this anymore.

Rating: 8/10