Super Dark Times
Owen Campbell, Charlie Tahan
September 29th, 2017 (LIMITED)
October 3rd, 2017 (VOD)
1 hour 40 minutes
*DISCLAIMER: This review was written in April of 2017 during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival*
It’s a rarity when movies have a character with the name “Zach.” It’s even more of a rarity when “Zach” is the name of a film’s lead character. When I was reading the synopsis for “Super Dark Times” and saw my name as the central protagonist, immediately I took interest. As it turns out, there’s a pretty great movie surrounding my majestic, underused name. Set in, as the press notes state, “mid-90s suburbia,” this movie revolves around two best friends, Zach and Josh. The two spend a lot of time together shooting the shit, swearing, and talking about girls. One girl in particular, named Allison, has caught the eyes of both guys, with Josh being more vocal about his crush. One day, the two boys are hanging out with a couple of other friends of theirs, and all is going just hunky dory. And then, shit hits the fan. Tragedy occurs! Blood is on thy hands! So the rest of the film deals with the aftermath of what happens on that fatal afternoon.
What I admired so much about “Super Dark Times” is how it portrays the different psychological effects it has on Zach and Josh. The two respond to what happened that day in ways that are both understandable and incredibly believable. The two actors playing Zach and Josh, Owen Campbell and Charlie Tahan, give genuinely human performances that, being the central core of the story, elevates the entire film from good to great. Elizabeth Cappuccino delivers strong work as well as Erica, with her chemistry with the boys, again, being incredibly believable. Their relationship together is very similar to a romantic subplot in the 2013 indie “The Kings of Summer,” yet this movie manages to take that type of subplot and make it feel fresh once again. The film wouldn’t work as well as it does, though, if it wasn’t for Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski’s dark and intense screenplay, as well as Kevin Phillips’ eye for getting the best performances out of these actors and telling such a powerful story.
It’s not a perfect movie by any means, with the lack of intelligence from other characters when trying to put two and two together being questionable, as well as how the opening scene doesn’t feel necessary to the story when thinking back on it. That being said, I was both on the edge of and pressing back into my seat throughout this movie. “Super Dark Times” is, as the title suggests, super dark. The performances are stellar, the script sharply written, and the film well-directed as a whole. For his feature film debut, director Kevin Phillips has crafted an intense, relatable, and fascinating look into the teen psyche from multiple subjects. Elements of “Donnie Darko,” “Stand By Me,” and “The Dirties” are scattered throughout, but I can see this becoming something of a new cult classic along the lines of those films. If you’re attending the Tribeca Film Festival currently, attending another festival this is playing at, or if it ends up coming to a town near you when it’s eventually released, I’d highly recommend going and checking this out. You won’t come out of the film feeling good, but you will come out feeling incredibly satisfied, tense, and maybe even horrified.