Many filmmakers of late enjoy doing a retro piece, a throwback, however they prove difficult with regard to lingo, but the when directing trio François Simard, Anouk, and Yoann-Karl Whissell aka RKSS (Roadkill Superstar), and screenwriters Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith display their influences it seems to breathe new life into these productions. This movie bases itself on a simple fact of a reoccurring phrase in the flick, No one knows what their neighbors do in their homes really; and even serial killers live next door to someone. The production values excel greatly in this movie while generating intense moments of suspense and less of scares with nods to action sequences and the inclusion of horror. When watching this move one might think about childhood movies such as The Goonies (1985) and in the spirit of Stand by Me, and suburban life found in The ‘Burbs (1989), with a dash of The Lost Boys (1987).
It’s summertime and teenage best friends Davey (Graham Verchere), Dale (Caleb Emery), Tommy (Judah Lewis), and Curtis (Cory Gruter-Andrew) doing what 15 year-old boys do in 1984, riding their bikes, dreaming of sexual conquests, and leering at hidden Playboy magazines in their treehouse. Their hangout clearly reminds one of The Monster Squad (1987), the boys’ sex talk all comes from their influences and rampant hormones, the awe of women, but accelerated with filthy mouths and x-rated minds, now some critics and viewers upset with their sexist concepts. First, take your modern mind and political correctness and toss them, it’s the early 80s, these concepts didn’t really exist back them. The picturesque landscape in the suburban town in Oregon, has a Reagan/Bush lawn sign, and these kids chat about Gremlins. Davey, an amateur conspiracy theorist reminds one a young Mulder, however still plays a game called “Manhunt” (think of it as tag or capture), meanwhile a report of 13 confirmed kills surfaces involving children abducted by a serial murderer dubbed the Cape May Killer. Davey and his friends think it’s a cool topic, but he encourages the group to join in his surveillance (they do a wonderful job) and suspicion of neighbor Mackey (Rich Sommer). These teens believe he fits the serial killer’s profile, after all Mackey’s job as a cop is nothing more than the perfect cover, so much that Davey the killer hides in plain sight because killers live near someone.
One part which goes a tad too far in believability, especially after an incident occurred, involves Davey’s crush on a former babysitter Nikki (Tiera Skovbye (Dead of Summer ) leads him to condemn his friends’ demeaning sex talk , oh please. Switching these gears is equivalent of getting caught with a Hustler magazine and stating you reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, unless it’s all a rouse to show one’s false maturity while trying to get to third base. An ideal aspect of the movie, aside from the story, becomes the fact of town life, a place where the neighborhood kids run in and out other homes, yards, neighbors greet each other, and nobody locks the front door. This openness exposes everyone for twists and upping the lasting emotional impact which carries over into individual lives and friendships.
There’s a genuine camaraderie between the boys, which reminds me recently of the movie IT, with story fairly believable and authentic dialogue fits the scenes, as acting appears it came from a close group of teens, while some of the supporting characters aren’t given more depth. The composers Jean-Nicolas Leupi and Jean-Philippe Bernier (who also served as cinematographer) bring to together a heavy dose of synth score music, which gives many nods to John Carpenter’s The Fog. It isn’t all a bed of roses, many plusses in one column with the story venturing from light and joyfulness to dark and sinister, a few too many unneeded jump scares. As earlier stated it’s a period piece, so no cell phones or internet, and love the look of the super long stretch-out phone receiver cord, brings back many memories, you could strangle someone with it, as well the décor, and tube televisions, just wonder how much spent at the prop rental department. The involvement of parents doesn’t really play a part, when it does occur a minor footnote, though nice to see actor Jason Gray-Standford, well-known for his role in the Monk tv-series as Lt. Randall Disher, portraying a frustrated and shock father to Davey, especially when he accused the neighbor of being a serial killer.
A well-crafted movie that looks terrific, thoroughly founded in 80s, in actually brings together both horror themes and classic whodunit, which only needs one to hang out in the rec room and watch slasher movies and quite a few Scooby Doo cliché lines. There’s much to enjoy in this movie, from a threat, to suggestions of danger, and an overactive imagination, makes this a film, everyone to see.
IMDb Rating: 6.7/10
Baron’s Rating: 7.0/10