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.