Review by Bears Fonte
Are we nostalgic about the 90’s now? I guess if Kevin Philips’ debut thriller SUPER DARK TIMES is any indication, break out the Skechers and flannel. Set at the moment you leave childhood behind and enter the shadowy unknown of adulthood, this intense slowburn film, stars Charlie Tahan and Owen Campbell as Josh and Zach, best friends who spend their days riding bikes and trying to watch scrambled porn on cable. Certainly setting a film (written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski) in the past offers more than wistfulness, it also removes pesky smart phones, the internet, and gps tracking out of any possible solutions. More importantly, it takes us pre-Columbine.
Every generation has its own fulcrum where the future inevitably twisted; the Kennedy assassination, the Space Shuttle explosion (that’s mine), and Columbine. It is easy to argue that 9/11 was much, much worse but pure unpredictable nature of hatred starts for me, at Columbine. It certainly changed the way we look at children and their afterschool activities and more importantly what we thought they were capable of. SUPER DARK TIMES, set in the murky but recent past, allows the idea of a student capable of murdering someone be a complete surprise, and I must admit, it felt good to be back there.
Josh’s life is in a bit of upheaval. Picked on at school (although not any more than most kids), his older brother recently off to join the marines, he and Zach find themselves after the same girl (Allison, played by Elizabeth Cappuccino). Everything changes one day afterschool when they are hanging out with their annoying, kinda-friend Daryl (Max Talisman) and and Charlie, and eighth-grader they barely know (Sawyer Barth). When they fool around with Josh’s brothers’ samurai sword, one of them doesn’t make it home that day.
The rest of the film plays more like ROPE than STAND BY ME, with loyalties strained and the constant glance over the shoulder. Throughout, the performances carry the film, which relies more on tense dialogue-driven scenes than action. Part of the reason the film works is because you couldn’t imagine any of these kids capable of murder, or covering up, and as bodies slowly increase, your view of the world gets strained. A viewer can be forgiven for say no… no way that would happen in that town with those kids, but that’s sort of the point. It was the point in 1999 at Columbine.
SUPER DARK TIMES just screened at Fantasia International Film Festival and will be released September 29th care of THE ORCHARD.