That title? It’s not kidding. In Kevin Phillips’ “Super Dark Times,” darkness settles over a small Hudson Valley town after a horrific accident forever alters the lives of a group of seemingly normal teens, including stars Owen Campbell and Charlie Tahan. A cross between “Stand By Me” and “Donnie Darko,” with plenty of “Stranger Things” evocations for good measure, it’s the kind of film that lovingly recreates the final wonders of childhood while hitting back with some horrific adult truths. High school, what a thing.
Per the film’s official synopsis, “Zach (Campbell) and Josh (Tahan) are best friends growing up in a leafy Upstate New York suburb in the 1990s, where teenage life revolves around hanging out, navigating first love and vying for popularity. When a traumatic incident drives a wedge between the previously inseparable pair, their youthful innocence abruptly vanishes as their lives spiral into violence.”
As we wrote in our Tribeca review from earlier this year, “Phillips’ film transcends the limits of its narrow-minded nostalgia because it doesn’t revisit some lost idyll so much as it corrupts one. ‘Super Dark Times’ might technically be called a coming-of-age story, but it’s less interested in growing up than it is in holding on — life is about to get way too real for these kids, and some of them are going to survive that transition better than others.”
The film is the feature debut of cinematographer Phillips, whose previous work includes the critically acclaimed 2015 short film “Too Cool For School,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and music video collaborations with musical artists such as Grimes, Childish Gambino, and Hozier.
Check out the first five minutes of “Super Dark Times,” available exclusively below.
“Super Dark Times” is in theaters today, September 29.