Fantasia: The RKSS Team Talks Summer of ’84
This Firday Gunpowder & Sky are releasing the horror thriller Summer of ’84 to VOD and Digital HD, and while attending the Fantasia Film Festival in July we had the chance to sit down with the filmmaking team behind the movie. Known as RKSS, the three directors (Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissel) previously made the cult hit Turbo Kid, and with Summer of ’84 are hitting the same 80’s nostalgia territory as Stranger Things.
“I think we go to the same well, but ‘Summer of ’84’ is different, it’s truly a true crime story,” said Yohann of the Stranger Things comparison.
“When we said yes to the project there was nothing like it on the market, it was 2015,” conceded Francois. “We actually worked one year on this project before ‘Stranger Things’ released their posters. We saw the first poster and were like, ‘Nooooo!’ It took awhile for us to watch the first season because we were scared. In the end they’re so different, and we’re kind of grateful for it.”
“At the same time you might want to adjust in case you did the same thing, because we were gonna happen after,” added Anouk. “Before going to prep we decided to watch it. It’s very different.”
If one were to assess both Stranger Things and Summer of ’84 as Steven Spielberg/Stephen King hybrids, the former tilts more towards Spielberg and the latter more towards Stephen King. ’84 doesn’t pull as many punches, and doesn’t flinch away from the reality of kids investigating a serial killer, including some truly disturbing, dark twists along the way.
“That’s what made us interested in the project, it took the risk of going there,” explained Yohann. “When we started production the producers started to get scared, and asked us to film a clean version where we didn’t go that far. We kinda did but we sat down with them afterward and said, ‘You know why we want to do this project, and why YOU wanted to do this project’ and they agreed we have to go there. We wanted the audience to feel safe, kids having the time of their life in a summer adventure, believing they’re gonna be heroes and they’re invincible. Suddenly real life strikes and real life is cruel and dark and mean and will spit you out and hurt you. It’s risky, but it needed that.”
They plan to continue the Turbo Kid story as well, with the team already cooking up new story ideas.
“I don’t see a ‘Turbo Kid’ without gore,” said Yohann of sequel plans.
“We’ll have to also keep the heart,” added Francois. “That’s the thing that made ‘Turbo Kid’ special, the contrast between super gory and super cute. It’s a balancing act. We DO want a bigger budget.”
Every serial killer is somebody’s neighbor. For 15-year-old Davey, the thought of having a serial killer in his suburban town is a scary yet exciting prospect at the start of a lazy summer. In hormonal overdrive, Davey and his friends dream of sexual conquests until the news reports of the Cape May killer. Davey convinces his friends that they must investigate, and they uncover that his next-door neighbor, an unassuming, single police officer, could be the prime suspect. Could Davey possibly be right, or is it his overactive imagination?
Summer of ’84 stars Graham Verchere (Fargo, The Good Doctor), Judah Lewis (Demolition, The Babysitter), Cory Gruter-Andrew (The 100), Caleb Emery (Goosebumps, American Vandal), and Rich Sommer (Mad Men). It’s written by Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith, having previously been selected for the 2016 Blood List, a list of the best screenplays in the ‘dark’ genres — horror, thriller, dark comedy and science fiction — as voted on by industry professionals. The film is directed by Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissel, aka RKSS.
The movie hits theaters on August 10, 2018, and will arrive On Demand and on Digital HD on August 24, 2018.