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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.

The Babysitter (2017) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier 

THE BABYSITTER

Director: McG
Writer: Brian Duffield (screenplay)
Stars: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Robbie Amell 

Plot:  The events of one evening take an unexpected turn for the worst for a young boy trying to spy on his babysitter.

Running Time: 80 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score:  Critics  50%   Audience 67%

Why I watched it: It’s a Netflix original and it’s horror and it’s very close to Halloween so why not?

Thoughts: Seems like we’re getting a lot of horror/comedies and make no mistake this isn’t a straight horror film, IMDB calls this a horror film but I would go so far as saying it’s more a dark comedy.

What I liked: The set up is decent, there’s a lot of places you could go with this, you could go straight horror or throw in some comedy to take the edge off, I have no problem with that when it works.  Best part of this movie is Samara Weaving as The Babysitter, she’s pretty but she has that rare combo of being sweet and likable but also having a dark edge to her.  I also like Robbie Amell in this, sure the character was under written and really he was there to run around with his shirt off but he had fun with it and brought some crazy energy to the film and also tried to flesh out his character more than was written on the page.

McG is a film director some would call him a hack others a Hollywood director for hire, he’s made some decent films, not great but decent but what he’s good at he does here, he keeps the movie going and he brings some style and some crazy energy to his direction.  This was really a one set movie and he does have fun with that.

What I didn’t like: My first reaction is to call this film a mess but really it’s just sloppy and under written.  They have elements here, babysitter, cults, killings, kids in danger, humor, sexy young adults running around looking hot, some blood and gore and a drawn out girl on girl kiss but it doesn’t add up to anything it all just seems random and not very well thought out.  Don’t get me wrong you could make an entertaining movie with these elements if you made it fit, if the script supported all of these elements but alas The Babysitter is not a whole just a sum of it’s parts and most of those parts are cliched.

The thing to attack the most with this film is of course the enemy of all horror/comedies tone and here’s where director McG really drops the ball, the tone is all over the place here, I think he should have decided on the genre first say it’s a horror film and tried to put some humor, or make it a comedy with some blood and gore he tries to go right down the middle and it doesn’t work.  The only character here that stands out is Samara Weaving, she’s could and I think the film could have worked if you had here as the good girl and helped the boy fight off the cult, she could have carried it. Now Judah Lewis does a decent job but his character is layers of cliches topped on each other,nothing about him is new and really seeing an early teen trying to defeat a cult that want’s to sacrifice him is a tough sell.  You could tell this film was thought out very well by the time we get to the ending it’s clear this is a muddled mess and the ending really doesn’t work.

Final Thoughts: It wasn’t terrible but I was left thinking “what was that movie” it was like reading a first draft, there was stuff there that could have worked but wasn’t thought out or developed.  Also the other thing is having this young boy just lusting after his babysitting is creepy and if you consider he’s close to an age where he doesn’t need one, he could have stayed with his grandparents.  The Babysitter just felt like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, just didn’t work for me.

Rating: 4/10