Fantasia Film Festival Movie Review: SUPER DARK TIMES

SUPER DARK TIMES, co-written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, marks the feature film debut from director Kevin Phillips and is a harrowing tale of teenage friends and the consequences set forth after a deadly event transpires. The film, which has received ample praises since it’s US premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, will leave audiences feeling disturbed and uncomfortable. The movie stars Owen Campbell, Charlie Tahan, Elizabeth Cappuccino, Max Talisman, Sawyer Barth, and Amy Hargreaves.

The story surrounding SUPER DARK TIMES centers on the relationship between teenagers Zach (Campbell) and Josh (Tahan), best friends who are coming-to-age in ways that some might expect teenage boys too and in other ways that no one should ever have to go through. With glimpses into their fascination with pornography set against the backdrop of finding their first love in school and the curiosity of smoking weed, the boys stumble along through their outgrowing adolescence with very few cares in the world. When a tragedy unfolds, this forces the friends to confront the fact that those closest to them may not be who they seem.

What really drives this film home is the talent possessed by both Campbell and Tahan. The believability of their friendship makes for a more impactful revelation when the consequences of the aforementioned tragedy unfolds. Campbell and Tahan are no stranger to the big screen, both having been acting for the past ten years, but to me they really were able to show their range in SUPER DARK TIMES, even with such a disturbing theme coursing through the entire film. Kevin Phillips did a phenomenal job of directing the teenage actors, making sure they still inhabited their youthful disposition even though the events occurring resulted in them having to grow up faster.

Some may argue that this isn’t a true horror film, but if you know anything about me or have read my writing, I fully believe that people possess the ability to commit unspeakable acts that are just as horrifying, if not more, than any monster movie can be. SUPER DARK TIMES is no different as the audience begins to see the true nature of one of the characters come to light in a terrifying manner. Do not go into this film expecting jump scares or supernatural beings to come crawling out of the shadows, this film is not one of those; however, be prepared to question the ability that people will go to cause pain to others for their own satisfaction. In terms of violence, it’s not to over the top but it’s target is teenagers and it’s very realistic.

For me, I found this film to be extremely effective in making me uneasy because of the realistic nature of it. I wish I could go more in-depth in my review, but not wanting to give anything away, I must stay relatively vague. The film is unsettling and the violence is raw and unapologetic, mirroring scenarios that we keep seeing pop up time and time again on the news. Ultimately the film really begs the question of if we ever really know someone and if there is any way to stop this type of violence. Unfortunately, I feel as though the answer to both of those questions is no.

Overall, SUPER DARK TIMES is a film that you should have on your radar. Phillips does a superb job of bringing Collins and Piotrowski’s script to life and though the film is set in the 90s it still applies to what is going on in the world today. This is a dark film that deals with a lot of unsettling themes but it also showcases the immense talent of the actors involved while leaving the audience gasping for air as the heinous acts begin to unfold. Though this may be Phillips first feature film, he’s truly accomplished a thought-provoking and devastating horror gem that will stay with audiences long after the film has ended.

SUPER DARK TIMES will be having it’s Canadian Premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival July 13 at 7pm at the Salle J.A. De Sève with an encore performance on July 14 at 5:30pm at the Salle J.A. De Sève.

Shannon McGrew
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