Super Dark Times
A disturbing look into the lives and circumstances of two teenage boys caught up in a tragedy and unable to grasp the reality of it. Zach and Josh are best friends growing up in a leafy Upstate New York suburb in the 1990s, where teenage life revolves around hanging out, looking for kicks, navigating first love and vying for popularity. When a traumatic incident drives a wedge between the previously inseparable pair, their youthful innocence abruptly vanishes. Each boy processes the tragedy in his own way until circumstances grow increasingly complex and spiral into violence. Director Kevin Phillips, whose critically acclaimed 2015 short film “Too Cool For School” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, dives headlong into the confusion of teenage life, creating an evocative atmosphere out of the murky boundaries between adolescence and adulthood, courage and fear, and good and evil.
Well, I certainly have to say, this film completely blew me away. I almost didn’t watch this one, but I’m so happy I did, as it was so much more than I could have ever expected. If you’re a fan of Donnie Darko (you might notice a few similarities throughout the film which will make you appreciate what the director did here) or the movie, Stand by Me, then see this, seriously, it’s a must-see for you. The film itself is an intense and very realistic story that is beautifully photographed, directed and the actors all did a fantastic job. I felt like I was watching something that could easily have been a true story of teenagers and how badly things can go wrong.
The film opens with images of the aftermath of a deer running through a classroom window, setting an unsettling tone that envelops the film midway through the story. Every interaction becomes fraught with tension. Zach’s dreams mix images of sex and death. Then there’s Josh, whose strange behavior seems like it could be inspired by a secret other than the one they share.
Super Dark Times is set in the mid-1990s and is a very dark story about a group of friends who have a tragic accident and tries to cover it up, which ultimately set the grief to start pouring out. One of the earlier scenes shows two of our teenaged protagonists flipping through a yearbook and disclosing who they wouldn’t have sex with while watching scrambled porn.
The question then falls to their other friend, Allison, whom Zach can’t bring himself to think of in that way and who seems to have feelings for her. They soon move onto another debate, the Punisher versus the Silver Surfer. There seems to be a rift beginning to open between the two boys that neither quite recognize as of yet, but will only get bigger over the remainder of the film. It’s not long before they have an even bigger problem on their hands.
The film mainly focuses on the aftermath of a brutal and bloody accident that leaves another of their friends dead. In the woods, the friends decide to cover the body with leaves and hide the murder weapon. While Zach is wracked with tremendous amounts of guilt, Josh seems to go into a sort of goes into isolation as darkness surrounds him. Before long, he reemerges as a boy teetering on the edge of a very confused psychopath.
For Zach, this couldn’t come at a worse time for Zach since it appears that Allison now taking a curious romantic interest in him. The days that follow ratchet the awkwardness of adolescence to an unbearable level. He can’t discuss the secret in the woods with his mother and he definitely will not discuss it with Allison. Soon the movie shifts gears, becoming more violent and shocking.
Super Dark Times is true to its name, and the film often plays like a version of It in which the Losers’ Club discovers they’re the source of Derry’s problems or a Stand By Me that centers on a body of the kids’ own creation. While this film may be too slow for some, I still highly recommend giving it a watch. I think you might agree that it will surprise you as well.
Title: Super Dark Times
Release Date: September 29, 2017
Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Drama
Studio: The Orchard Films
Starring: Owen Campbell, Charlie Tahan, Elizabeth Cappuccino
MPAA Rated: NR
Directors: Kevin Phillips
Reviewed by: Carl Collins
Our Rating: 4.2 /5
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