Some movies have the ability to grab your attention with one form of advertisement. It could be a poster, trailer, plot synopsis, or even an interview with someone associated with the project. For me, the poster to this year’s Super Dark Times caught my eye. Three silhouettes, each holding a flashlight pointed down a dark hole, with a bright sunset sky behind them. Without even knowing who was in the movie or what it was about I was hooked.
The plot of Super Dark Times seems very straightforward at first glance. A group of teenagers doing what teenagers do best when they’re bored, roaming around endlessly until something magical happens, reaches a sudden end to their fun when an accident occurs. This description is correct, but oh boy is this only about 20% of what this movie turns out to be. The accident that occurs could have been handled properly and this film would’ve been about twenty minutes long. The decisions that these boys make are what make this film so captivating to watch.
Films like Stand by Me, It, and The Lost Boys are beloved by audiences of all ages because they take a relatable idea of being a child/teenager and present a “What if?” scenario to play with. When you’re young, your options seem very different than those of an adult. There is an added level of suspense to all of these films because as audience members we all just want to scream through the screen at these characters and help them see the right path. Super Dark Times does just that with how each of the boys cope with the consequences of the accident, only the scenario is extremely possible and so are the repercussions.
Director Kevin Phillips has very interesting eye for detail which can be seen in numerous aspects of this film. The conversations that the boys have throughout the film truly feel like a teenage boy wrote them, which normally would be an insult but in this case, it’s perfect. You can hear the wonder in their voices when they talk about which superhero is the best and the curiosity and longing tone when they’re talking about who the prettiest girl in school is. There were certain scenes where I almost forgot I was watching actors.
The cinematography was something I’ve been thinking about since I finished the film. When I saw the trailer for the first time after that poster blew my mind, my initial thought was that this movie visually looked neat. Everything looked dimly lit and almost grainy which added to the tone of what I was expecting the story to be about. Once you get the full story, you realize how important the cinematography is. The camera angles create an atmosphere of tension and even a little claustrophobia. The lighting creates a feel of hopelessness and fear as these boys deal with their own thoughts. If this film was shot like a Disney movie the underlying tones would’ve been lost and the impact of the final act of the story would be significantly less.
Super Dark Times is a film that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a suspenseful and meaningful drama. The story is relatable and engages the audience to really think about what they would do if put in the same difficult position. The actors all give solid performances for such a dark subject matter. The film both looks and feels bleak and melancholy just as the characters feel. I see good things in the future for director Kevin Phillips if he continues to make thought provoking films like this one.