‘Summer of 84’ mines nostalgia and horror tropes for fun popcorn thriller

‘Summer of 84’ mines nostalgia and horror tropes for fun popcorn thriller

Summer of 84 takes a wealth of ingredients that audiences love in horror films – a ragtag group of never-say-die kids intent on solving a crime; a subtly sinister suburban setting; a grab bag of jump scares; a hefty dose of 1980s nostalgia – and whisks them together into a feature fit for a savvy Millennial crowd that doesn’t scare easily.

Directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell (who previously directed Turbo Kid), the Vancouver-shot horror flick follows a group of teenage friends who suspect that their police officer neighbour is a serial killer. The boys spend their summer (the summer of 1984, natch) spying on him and gathering evidence, but as they get closer to discovering the truth, things get – dun, dun, dun! – dangerous.

Summer of 84 stars Graham Verchere as protagonist Davey, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew, Tiera Skovbye, and Rich Sommer. It premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was produced by Brightlight Pictures. 

And it screens tonight  – July 30 – at the Rio Theatre as part of a special fundraiser for the iconic multimedia venue. The event will be the first and only screening in English-speaking Canada before its theatrical release in the United States and French-speaking Canada on August 10 and its VOD release on August 24.

YVR Screen Scene spoke with Tiera Skovbye – who plays Polly Cooper on Riverdale and girl-next-door Nikki Kaszuba in Summer of 84 – about the film, her character, and her love for the Rio.

YVR SCREEN SCENE: What makes you scared when you watch a horror film?

TIERA SKOVBYE: My favourite classic horror film has always been The Shining. There’s something about psychological thrillers and jump scares that really get to me. What’s cool about Summer of 84 is it’s got all of those elements. It’s got fun elements like in The Goonies, but it’s also like Disturbia in that it really gets in your head and you’re like, “What is happening?!”

YVRSS: What attracted you to Summer of 84 in the first place?

TS: I really love when you start reading a script and you immediately have an idea in your head of, “Oh, I know how this is going to end” – but then you get to the end, and you’re like, “What? What?!” There’s something at the end that happens that’s completely unexpected. It could have gone one way, but it doesn’t. And it’s set in the 1980s, so you get to play with all of the costumes and stepping back in time. There are certain times where you’d go, ‘If this were to happen now, we would all have our cell phones.’ But it’s fun to go, ‘Actually, at the time, there was no way out of this kind of thing.’” 

YVRSS: Tell me more about Nikki, the character you play in Summer of 84. What’s her journey?

 The young male leads of  Summer of 84  idealize Skovbye's character as the "hot girl next door."

The young male leads of Summer of 84 idealize Skovbye's character as the "hot girl next door."

TS: She’s one of the only girls in with the boys, which I love. You first see her from across the street. She’s idealized by these young boys – they see her as the hot girl next door – and she develops a sweet, non-sexual relationship with Davey, and she confides in him, and you end up seeing these layers to her. It very easily could have been something else, and it isn’t, which I think is really awesome, and because of the connection that Nikki and Davey have, she decides to go on this journey with him, and she believes him when a lot of people don’t.

YVRSS: Summer of ’84 is screening as part of a #SavetheRio fundraiser. Why do you think it’s important to #SavetheRio?

TS: I’m from Vancouver. I grew up right downtown, and for me, it’s a classic: it’s a staple of the city. It plays old movies. It has concerts. It does everything. We need it. I don’t think that Vancouver has a lot of stuff like that anymore, and it’s important that it stays.

Follow @summerof84movie @SkovbyeTiera @RioTheatre 

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity

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