Super Dark Times (2017) Poster

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Life Before the Internet
gavin694213 July 2017
Teenagers Zach (Owen Campbell) and Josh (Charlie Tahan) have been best friends their whole lives, but when a gruesome accident leads to a cover-up, the secret drives a wedge between them and propels them down a rabbit hole of escalating paranoia and violence. Not to mention both friends are interested in the same girl (Elizabeth Cappuccino).

Viewers of a certain age and upbringing will latch on to this film almost immediately. This was life in the pre-Internet era, circa 1992, with scrambled pornography on television being the most exciting thing a teenage boy could hope for. Perhaps an older brother will have a sword or some other contraband to show off to your suburban friends and be a hero for a day.

Through this film, we also get a peak at the "nerd" or outcast world, not far removed from the group of kids featured on Netflix's "Stranger Things", if we add a few years. Having been a part of that crowd and that generation, the reviewer can confirm that conversations about a prosthetic "hand that cooks steaks" might have been entirely plausible. Interestingly, the outcast world (the reviewer again confirms) has its own tiers. There is more than one kind or level of unpopular, and as we see in "Super Dark Times", the annoying overweight kid is likely to be looked down upon, even by those already ostracized.

Without giving too much away, let us just say an unfortunate death haunts this small band of outsiders, but what really shows off the cleverness of the script is how they deal with it in different ways. Who will be able to handle the pain and guilt? Who will be eaten up inside? And as the warning signs tart adding up, will anyone notice that this is not all just going to blow over? The acting is top-notch and you have to give these kids credit for tackling such dark material and executing it flawlessly.

The direction is strong, and this really comes through later in the film as we start to feel the pacing gnaw at us (in a good way). There is an incredible use of suspense and tension as the film reaches its climax, and if you find yourself literally on the edge of your seat, you are not alone. The viewer ultimately winds up caring about these kids, and cannot even attempt to look away as things could become worse… or salvation swoops in. It could go either way – you just have to watch and see.

"Super Dark Times" screened on July 13, 2017 at the Fantasia International Film Festival (opening day). There are many strong films this year, as there are every year, but this film really sets the bar high for suspense and thrills. As the festival rolls on, other films will try – and possibly not succeed – in matching that bar.
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Super Enjoyable Times
umimelectric20 November 2017
If you like an indie flavor & are a fan of films like River's Edge or Stand By Me then you should have some fun with this one.

The storytelling is rich and engaging with suspenseful paranoia & is accompanied by some shocking imagery. The characters are entertaining & well conceived so it matters to the viewer when events unfold around them.

I can't fault this film for anything but I settle on a 7 rating because like most true crime narratives it is forced to borrow from its influences, which seem to be called upon throughout.
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Clear screenplay with ample dramatic developments and unexpected turns of events. Actors of high-school age carry story very well
JvH4825 February 2017
Saw this at the Rotterdam film festival 2017 (website: The synopsis on the festival website contained ample pointers to avoid this movie, for example "life revolves around vying for popularity, hanging out, falling in love and looking for kicks". Luckily there was only little attention for partying, courting, clothes, and more such, unlike other movies covering youngsters of high-school age. The real drama took some time to develop, but once becoming apparent it stayed in the forefront, and so should it be.

A bit problematic (for me) is that the finale went a bit too fast and too bloody for my taste, something that did not follow logically from what happened before. It seemed a bit over the top. On the other hand, a different ending was not easy to think of, as involving the police and the legal system would have ruined the story completely. Moreover, it would require bringing in the parents of our main protagonists, which usually does not bode well for the clarity of the drama. Anyway, unexpected turns of events came at a steady pace and without weak moments, one step after another. The role of the female college students was less cultivated, as if they were only background tapestry, or maybe serving as catalyst material to speed up developments but otherwise not really crucial for the outcome.

Unclear is the opening scene where a deer is found dead in the class room with a broken window. It took some time before the police entered, who started exchanging glances with each other, but I'm at a loss what it all meant.

From the final Q&A I learned a nice statement: "planting little seeds here and there is the essence of script writing". And also: Rhythm and pacing are important (it was a side answer to a question about the sound track, but even more applying to the screenplay).

Also from the Q&A: A serious attempt was made to give Josh more dimensions in his character. Same for the others, though they did not need it that much. All were nice young men without really bad habits, but only nice is not enough to keep our interest.

All in all, I was glad to have booked tickets for this movie, despite my fears that it was to become another coming-of-age story with too much time devoted on courting and partying. This time there were no problems along that line. It sustained a real focus on the central story and its pacing of subsequent developments. The audience awarded this movie a mediocre 73rd place (out of 172) with an average score of 3.905 *out of 5).
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Super dark atmosphere
Jithin K Mohan26 November 2017
A brilliant directorial debut by Kevin Philips. From the opening shot itself, the super dark mood is created in this film set in the mid-90s. A lot is communicated using visuals and incidents that aren't directly related to the main plot which solidifies the atmosphere of the film. Owen Campbell lives and breathes as Zach, even his inhaling and exhaling was so perfect for the character at each particular moment. But the third act was not a well-written part of the film where the characters act upon motivations that feel rushed without proper transition and ends up like a lot of other films.
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If John Hughes had made a super dark film...
Bawoof9 October 2017
Then Super Dark Times might have been it. Overall I enjoyed this film and I do recommend it. The performances of the young actors are well done;I especially enjoyed the performance of Amy Hargreaves (the attractive mother) who plays the mom as someone who is unaware of the exact situation her son has gotten himself into, but she is NOT your stereotypical naive and clueless parent that is so often portrayed in such films.

That said, the film is not without its faults. The opening scene which the director NEVER returns to makes absolutely NO SENSE in the context of this movie. Additionally, having been a high school geek myself (although that was back in the late 70s and early 80s), I find it odd that the cute girl (played by Elizabeth Cappuccino) would even have the slightest romantic interest in the nice guy geek Zach played by Owen Campbell; sorry but those of us who fall into the "late bloomer" category know that growing up, the most we could hope for from the cute girls was to end up in the friend zone and foolishly hope that one day she would wake up and realize that the nice guy is the guy for her (BALONEY!) That subplot reeked of a writer's fantasy to me.

One particular standout was Sawyer Barth as the eighth grade boy from another school who accidentally gets caught up in the violence. I must say, this young fellow gave a very underrated by convincing performance in a supporting role.

Finally, a few points about how the ending unfolds as it does left me somewhat confused. I could not understand why one particular character behaved a certain way, nor did I understand why someone else did NOT do something that should have been fairly obvious. That's all I want to say since I don't want to spoil it for anyone. I give it a recommendation if you like dark coming of age stories.
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Loved this believable tragedy....
dexton-8490828 October 2017
What a totally enjoyable 'under the radar' film.

Tragic events well acted by the young cast, and a very believable scenario.

An unlucky accident just spirals and moves at exactly the right pace. Never too sensational. Never too gory. And you can't help but feel moved by the inevitability of the story.

Sharp. Succinct. Well acted. Well made. Great script. LOVED IT!
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A Good Weekend Film!
aaroncarreiro27 November 2017
In this movie, which despite being a bit slow and nostalgic, set in the early 90's, a lot things happens! It's one of those movies, that makes you think and interact, your head is wondering and trying to know what will happen in the next few minutes.

The teen cast is not to be missed. Failure in some takes but is to be dropped in the taste of the director, in setting a very quiet place, with colors close to sunset at all times and a big air that the place of the film is always cloudy and cold.

The story of the film really happens from the 20 minutes, an introduction of recognition a little too much, but sensible and cohesive!

It really is necessary to pass the "feeling" of the characters for a better understanding of what will happen during the movie! When the film engages and really begins the suspense and tension, the scenes with dozens of dry cuts, make everything more bizarre, and more complicated. At times it reminds me very well of the plot and tension of "Donnie Darko" which makes us think that the director should or may have had some reference in this suspense icon film.

As I mentioned above, the picture of the film is something really impressive, the film has a very interesting environment, as well as the soundtrack that mixes instrumental and backgrounds of the 90's and 80's.

Anyway, it's a good movie, for those who have good patience and enjoy puzzles. The ending is quite "predictable", but it's worth it!
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Coming of Age - into the light
kosmasp16 November 2017
Every childhood has its own stories. And we get one here that incorporates a couple of things. It may seem to go one way and then swerves and goes somewhere else with it. So I'd say it is not as predictable as other movies in the same genre. It also tells you from the start that this isn't just a light fun affair.

So if you like a drama with really good child performers, this is one of the movies I'd recommend you to watch. Mistakes will be made and the consequences do grow out and mess up with other people. But it's also yourself who may have trouble getting over certain things happening. Add to that a romantic "side-story" and you have a really powerful movie (flawed as it still may be)
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Utterly Awful movie...Not high and mighty just a load of old sh....ey
omendata20 November 2017
Slow , boring and tedious. Utterly unbelievable nonsense. The end leaving the viewer hanging. Unforgivable. And some viewers are actually rating this as a good movie? I guess some people must be right up their own kazoo if they think this is some sort of artistic neogothic meditation on life and death Ted Hughes style - yes we can all pontificate and sound high and mighty but please folks follow my advice this film is just shitey!
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I had Super Dark Times watching this movie
RileyOnFilm9 December 2017
Snowy or rainy days are moody and great to stay home curled up with a coffee, hot chocolate, or beverage of your choice watching films. What I just wrote is an example of "setting" and it works powerfully in Super Dark Times. The question I will answer in this review is: "Does it work well enough?" I have to report, I didn't think so.

In preparing for this review I watched and reviewed Mean Creek with Josh Peck in a surprisingly good serious role. Someone said they were similar movies. I actually think the Peck film is better because it doesn't play tricks on you, it just "is what it is." The third act of Super Dark Times has some plot and characterization issues. So much in fact that I started losing interest. I rarely lose interest in 3rd acts. The lame at best, predictable at worst ending is satisfying enough but I felt let down by this film.

Kevin Phillips is a new director and I applaud him for the moody New England look of the film. After that, I thought all the males were substandard for the movie and they really brought it down. The females did great acting work and helped make the situations believable. Screaming, bleeding, and breaking things are really the only parts of this film that flesh out these characters. I truly enjoy mood and cinematography in a film but it should go in concert with a simple story that plays out, credits to credits rather than one that makes you work until you literally get a headache. All the cool photography in the world can't compete with ibuprofen there. It had some good parts, and I look forward to what Kevin Phillips does in the coming years. This one didn't do it for me.
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