Interviews,  Movies/Entertainment

Interview…Directing Trio RKSS on Throwback Thriller, ‘Summer of 84’

To those of you who aren’t on the film festival circuit or don’t watch a lot of genre films, the Montreal-based directing trio, RKSS, probably just seems like random letters. Well, they directed this totally rad throwback post-apocalyptic bicycle flick called Turbo Kid, and it was totally wicked!

Some three years later, they are back with another ’80s era film, only this is a departure from the zany level of filmmaking that got them noticed in the first place. So while many fans would have loved to see the continuing adventures of Turbo Kid, riding through the Wasteland, this is a great film that proves they can do more than showcase brilliant kills, and over-the-top fun.

Further, Summer of 84 proves that RKSS (which stands for Roadkill Superstar) are maturing as filmmakers and gaining a different audience at the same time. Good news is that it works, plus they again teamed up with Le Matos which makes it all the more awesome.

We caught up with the above mentioned trio (François Simard, and brother and sister Yoann-Karl Whissell and Anouk Whissell) to discuss Summer of 84. As you might expect, the conversation is as wild and varied as their filmic interests. But it was a blast!

FYI: We discuss heavy SPOILERS, so be sure to see the film before jumping in to read our interview.

GoSeeTalk: You’ve been very busy doing press for the film. How’s that been so far?

François Simard: It’s great. Not a lot of sleep, but what we lack in sleep, we make up with love. [Laughs]

I am a huge fan of Turbo Kid, and aside from that glorious film, you have brought Le Matos into my life, so I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

François Simard: Oh, you are so welcome. We love the film, and Le Matos are so great. we really love working with them!

Let’s open up the interview with a fun question. On your Vimeo site, you are described as a three-headed beast, but if we take that literally, what would be your power and what city would you destroy?

François Simard: Oh, man, that’s an epic question. Well, it’s funny because we always like to say that we each have a special ring and when we connect it we become a giant robot like Voltron. But we’re not the robot that destroys the city, we’re the one that comes in and saves the day…with love and hugs. We would hug the shit out of Godzilla! [Laughs] And he would realize, “I’m going to far with this destruction thing.” And we would just hug it out.

Yoann-Karl Whissell: And play board games with him!

François Simard: Yeah, board games! But I feel like Godzilla would be the cheating type. You couldn’t play Monopoly with him, he would hide money under the table.

Well, I think that’s your next video short. Put that on the site!

Anouk Whissell: [Laughs] We’ll start working on it as soon as the tour is over! [Laughs]

I really enjoyed Summer of 84. Nostalgia aside, which speaks to a lot of people, it was great and has a real one-two punch of an ending. It is shocking and I’m still thinking about it months later. What was that like for you directing  from a script by Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith’s story, and how did you like how the ending turned out?

François Simard: We’re very happy what we’ve done with the ending. There was a version of the script where the killer was caught, but it didn’t feel right. It needed to be open, and feel unresolved, that way the horror would linger. Davey’s life is ruined after this. Even if Mackey doesn’t come back, what  happened is going to torture him for the rest of his life.

Yoann-Karl Whissell: It’s sad, but it’s basically why we said yes in the first place. We knew that the ending would be different from all the other ones, and people will remember it a long time afterwards.

Anouk Whissell: Everyone who jumped into the project was down to go that hard and that dark, and even on set, there was talk about doing a softer kill at the end but we talked to the producer and they were all for it.

 François Simard: It think that Davey, at the end, lives a fate worse than death. He’s all alone, his friends don’t talk to him anymore, the girl he liked is going away, and then truly alone with his fear, and he’s responsible for the death of his friend. The cruelty of what Mackey did to him is without bond, and that was interesting to us.

Yoann-Karl Whissell: One thing we love is that we wanted to trick you into believing “oh, I know that kind of movie.” We played it pretty safe aside from a couple jump scares, but the real twist is that you don’t know what’s coming, and we pulled the rug out from under you. We love doing that.

I agree 100% with what you said because it does distinguish itself from others out there, but I really haven’t been able to shake that ending and it’s been months since I saw this. The open ending is so impacting because it goes beyond the narrative and kind of pulls it onto the real world. It’s so well done.

François Simard: That’s what we were hoping for, so for you to tell us that you’ve been thinking about it, it means the world to us. And that’s exactly what we wanted: to keep that conversation going to feel that sense of dread that never leaves. If we ever meet, I am going to hug the shit out of you!

You guys and your hugs. [Laughs] Yes, bring it on! I’ll buy your plane tickets.

François Simard: [Laughs] We’ll see you soon!

It’s clear how much you all love the ‘80s. I was born in 1980 so I got to experience every single year of that glorious decade, but what speaks to you about that era, and if you could remake anything from the ‘80s, what would it be?

Anouk Whissell: I feel that there was something in the storytelling that was just magic, and there was a texture and reality in all the effects. The practical effects were real and you could feel them through the screen. There was something about the ‘80s and directors were able to take a lot of risks because they trusted the audience more. I think that’s what we love about that time. There was so much originality and creativity.

François Simard: Yeah, they took a lot of risks with films back then. Can you imagine the pitch for something like The Blues Brothers? It’s a musical with car crashes, and there’s two guys on a mission from God. It would be have been so hard for the studio to give millions of dollars for the car crashes.

L-to-R: François Simard, and sister & brother Anouk and Yoann-Karl Whissell.

Yoann-Karl Whissell: I don’t know if I would remake anything but I would do Ninja Eliminator. I can’t wait for the day when we can do a crazy, over-the-top ninja movie with mustaches!

Anouk Whissell: Oh, I would love to do The Gate!

François Simard: Yeah! Well it’s a Canadian horror film, so it should be a Canadian that remakes it. [Laughs]

I spoke to Steven Dorff about his recent film, Wheeler, and the first thing I asked him about was The Gate. That movie scared the crap out of me as a kid. Such a good one.

Now going back to studios trusting the filmmakers, did you do Summer of 84 thinking that would one day allow you to do something crazy, like Ninja Eliminator, or did you just want to try something different?

François Simard: At the budget level we were with Summer, it’s less of a risk for any studio, so they were more open to do this story.

Yoann-Karl Whissell: Turbo Kid is very different, but we didn’t want to be put into that box where people only think we do crazy movies. It would have been very easy to do Turbo Kid 2 and 3 and 4, so having the chance to do something different, to show we had more range, was the right move for us and would help us in the future.

Thanks to RKSS for their time. Make sure you check out Summer of 84The film made its World Premiere earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released in theaters on August 10, 2018, and available on VOD and Digital HD on August 24, 2018.

Summer, 1984: The perfect time to be 15 years old and care free. But when neighborhood conspiracy theorist Davey Armstrong begins to suspect his police officer neighbor might be the serial killer all over the local news, he and his three best friends begin an investigation that soon turns dangerous.