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Super Dark Times
Year:
2017
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
6.8
Director:
Kevin Phillips
Carl Arcilesi as Party Goer
Kortnee Simmons as Eugene
Anni Krueger as Mrs. Barron
Ethan Botwick as John Whitcomb
Adea Lennox as Meghan
Storyline: Teenagers Zach and Josh 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.
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
HQ DVD-rip 720x304 px 1360 Mb mpeg4 1850 Kbps avi Download
Reviews
Life Before the Internet
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.
2017-07-13
Clear screenplay with ample dramatic developments and unexpected turns of events. Actors of high-school age carry story very well
Saw this at the Rotterdam film festival 2017 (website: iffr.com). 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).
2017-02-25
If John Hughes had made a super dark film...
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.
2017-10-09
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