The film characters’ consequences drive them down a dark path
The best way to describe the new independent film “Super Dark Times” may be painfully obvious, but it’s super dark.
From a distance the film may appear as a middle school adventure/horror genre film in the likeness of “Stranger Things” or this year’s “IT”, but in reality, it could not be more different.
“Super Dark Times” premiered at various film festivals earlier this year and was swept under the rug until it was recently released on video and demand. Since then the film has been getting deserved recognition and robust critical acclaim.
The movie is directed by Kevin Phillips in his impressive directorial debut and is masterfully written by writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski.
The script and overall direction create a statement about corruption, teen angst and the current age of violence our society is in and has been in for some time now.
In fact, Piotrowski has admitted to choosing the 90s setting to relate it to the mood of fear and panic relevant to the time of the 1999 Columbine shootings.
The story takes place sometime in the mid to late 90s on the east coast. Zach (Owen Cambell) and Josh (Charlie Tahan) are ninth graders who have been best friends for quite some time. They spend their time after school biking around town occupying themselves by basically doing nothing, as kids do.
One day Zach and Josh decide to hang out with their obnoxious and loud-mouthed acquaintance Daryl. Josh finds his older brother’s samurai sword and the three of them decide slash gallons of milk with the sword for fun– you probably can start to see where it’s going to go from here.
Josh then sees that Daryl stole “weed” from his older brother’s room. Josh gets upset and the two begin to fight. Josh grabs the sword and Daryl tackles Josh, accidentally falling on the sword in
Josh’s hand. Filled with fear and misbelief Zach and Josh bury Daryl under a bed of fallen leaves.
The murder causes Josh to go down a deep and dark descent of madness, while Zach is haunted by his guilt and reoccurring nightmares of the incident. The two must hide the truth from coming out while also balancing school and relationships at the same time.
The highest praise I can give “Super Dark Times” is its spot-on depiction of youth.
The high schoolers talk and act exactly like high schoolers do, profanity flows sentence to sentence as young adults usually talk. The acting in this film is incredible. Campbell and Tahan do an excellent job at portraying their awkward and naïve characters so much so that it’s almost hard to watch. Tahan is the standout as he makes the viewer empathize with his bizarre character.
Each scene oozes with remorse and despair due to the cold and barren atmosphere of the story. The film is so surreal and hyper-realistic that it is almost hard to watch because it feels as if you are experiencing what the characters are.
“Super Dark Times” begins great, but it begins to drag as it seems as if nothing is really happening. The dark and ominous tone of the movie honestly made me want to stop watching at times.
Fortunately, the movie begins to pick up again near the third act as more begins to happen. However; the very end of the movie leaves the viewer with many questions and somewhat unsatisfied.
Overall, “Super Dark Times” is one of those rare movies that are really well-made and acted, but not very enjoyable. Honestly, I would not be surprised if this movie gets nominated for any
Oscars for this upcoming year’s Academy Awards. The script, the direction, and the acting are excellent, but the story doesn’t really know where to go after the first act.
I recommend this movie to anyone who truly loves movies, but be aware that it may leave you feeling depressed by the end. “Super Dark Times” is currently on iTunes and Amazon to rent and will be on DVD in late November.