When his father died, Daniel was so messed up he quit his paper route without notice. His cries for help added up until his mother sent him away for the summer – to his aunt’s house, in Cap Cod.
1991 was the hottest summer that Massachussetts had seen in many, many years, although for Daniel (Timothee Chalamet), it wasn’t necessarily about temperature. He meets the local bad boy, Hunter (Alex Roe), and starts flipping weed with him. Daniel’s business savvy combined with Hunter’s hustle means they’re running some major product and stockpiling significant cash. Hunter only has one rule: don’t touch my sister.
Hunter’s sister McKayla (Maika Monroe) is of course some brand of irresistible. Daniel falls for both: the girl and the money. It’s going to be a wild summer. It IS a wild summer: new cars, stolen kisses, steamy nights at the drive-in. Daniel sees more money than a teenager ever should, and the summer is heady, happier than he would have imagined at its start. But things quickly and inevitably get unmanageable because teenagers lack impulse control.
A storm hits. Literal and figurative. It’s The Perfect Storm, but it’s also a guy with a gun hunting down the dudes who fucked him over.
Director Elijah Bynum engages relentlessly is some very heavy 80s worship, and a lot of his style seems borrowed, matching the story, which is lacking in originality. But to his credit, he did cast Timothee Chalamet before he was THAT guy, the IT guy, and the cast does a lot to keep this thing from getting stuck in the mud. Like its hero, this movie stumbles around until it gets in over its head. The charm of the pretty cast, and indeed the pretty corpses, doesn’t quite make up for the leaden script and too-familiar story. Hot Summer Nights is nice to look at, but it never makes you sweat.