Enjoying their normal lives in mid-’90s suburbia, Zach and Josh are best friends with numerous shared interests, chief of which is an attraction to their classmate Allison. One seemingly routine day, along with two other friends, Zach and Josh borrow the latter’s older brother’s prized samurai sword to goof around in the local park. But the afternoon soon spirals out of control. Wracked with guilt, Zach struggles to assimilate back into high school life, even as Allison begins to show a romantic interest in him. The situation gets even more complicated once Zach notices a disturbingly off-balance change in Josh’s behavior.
Blurring genre lines throughout, Super Dark Times
marks a confidently audacious and impeccably assembled feature debut for director Kevin Phillips. In its adult depiction of innocence corrupted, Phillips’ midnight-dark film has shades of everything from Stand By Me
to Donnie Darko
and Stranger Things
. Yet Phillips’ masterful command of mood, cinematographer Eli Born’s stunning use of wide-screen photography, a few unsettlingly horror-movie-like dream sequences, and the cast’s excellent performances all combine to elevate Super Dark Times
above pastiche and into uncompromisingly bold filmmaking.