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This article contains spoilers clearly marked at the end of the review. If you have questions about this film, ask them in the comments section! Read ahead at your own peril.
What's Super Dark Times About?
It's 1996 and Zack and Josh have been friends for a long time. They are typical teenagers who love a good dare, talk about girls and chase popularity.
Super Dark Times tells how guilt and fear can affect us all differently. After an afternoon of fun, four boys discover just how far one person can go when life gets turned on its head.
Will anyone believe Zack before it's too late?
Quick Film Info for Super Dark Times, Budget and Release
- Written By: Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski.
- Released: September 2017.
- Genre: dramatic thriller.
- Stars: Charlie Tahan, Elizabeth Cappuccino and Owen Campbell.
- USA Box Office: just over $300,000.
- Rotten Tomatoes Audience gave it 3.8/5, and IMDb gave it 6.5/10.
Review for Super Dark Times
Charlie Tahan is awesome in this. I thought I remembered him from other movies but only recognized I am Legend (2007) from his filmography. I discovered though, I am not crazy—he’s in some of my favorite series. The new Ozark series, the Wayward Pines series and Gotham are all shows I love to watch. Owen Campbell as Josh was also brilliant casting. The rest of the cast is either too young to have done much or just not in shows/movies I’ve seen.
I had to do some questioning after Super Dark Times, feeling quite lost with all the meaning behind it all. I rarely like a slow burn, but somehow this kept me hanging in there. I read an article from some guy who tweeted the director about certain symbolism in this film. Reading this gave me a few answers that appeased my questions but left me with others.
A lot of plot points stay tethered to the guilt and paranoia of the scene that set the ball rolling down a very steep hill. One's ability to untangle the thread is up to the viewer. Those that miss vital points will probably not enjoy this film and while I didn't catch them all, I maintained enough of them so I was still there at the end having enjoyed the bumpy ride.
Like everyone else that enjoyed it, I loved the way it plodded along. Josh’s mum, oblivious with love to the possibility that his new mood might be connected with news from the town hit home for me. It's easy for situations and life to take an unpleasant turn, especially as a teenager, not having the life experience to make the right choices. Perhaps it doesn't just apply to teens but to anyone.
I have two small children, both boys. This type of film makes me dread the tightrope they face. That any youth face really. I think of teens like turtles: Heaps get released into the ocean, some make it, but some don’t. Many of the comments I see are unhappy with the poor decisions of Josh and Zach, but I think they are mostly right. Most teenagers are idiots.
Like the title, the entire film is dark and moody with some camera shots so detailed there was enough information in them to apply symbolic meanings to them. The opening scene shows a piece of paper flutter through the deer-shaped cracked glass to denote that the story has now begun.
The runtime for this movie at 100 minutes is what enables the narrative not to take a nosedive and over-complicate itself like others I watched in 2017 (like The Cure for Wellness) and I expect it takes a special talent to restrain from adding too much or too little to the cinematography to get it right.
This is a film that you could easily watch again, armed with possible answers to unanswered questions or theories floating around the internet. In this instance, I have a spoiler section marked below for just that purpose.
I enjoyed this film. Not too heavy and not too light, it ticks all the boxes and still has me wondering about whether we have seen the last of this story.
I give Super Dark Times 4 packets of dried squid out of 5.
Super Dark Times Explained (Spoilers)
Here are some explanations for some of the symbolism present in the film. There are some major spoilers ahead so if you have not yet watched the movie, please do so before reading!!!
The Death of the Deer in Super Dark Times
Having an opening scene so dire and so solemn gets used to provoke the feeling that it will only get worse from here. It sets the tone for the entire film.
Having Alison watch the event unfold with wide eyes as the deer receives a slow death instead of a quick one leads her to have her own emotional awakening.
Is Josh's Brother Dead?
The change in Josh is correlated with the death of Daryl and his mother's portrayal as overly protective. Being overprotective could be a sign that her first-born has died. His mom allows him to stay at home for a length of time. Josh is quick to anger at any questions about his brother. He also takes people into his brother's room, two of which aren't known to him that well. He never says when his brother will be coming home.
Why Did He Go After Alison?
Josh and Zach look through a yearbook and Alison is someone they are both interested in. Zach mentions hanging out with Alison sparking a flame of jealousy early in the piece from Josh.
When Daryl dies, Zach becomes flooded with guilt and overwhelming emotions that restrict him from responding to Alison the way he would like. Jealousy is reignited in Josh and his behavior takes on a new persona. He seemingly has no rationale. The director's abilities shine through as Josh is often shot from below after becoming erratic making him look like a villain before he even shows he is one. He becomes somewhat cartoon-like with the sky's reflection in his glasses.
Zach begins to have nightmares and his world of teenage lust for Alison and Josh's sudden strange behavior blur together. It is easy to spot when Josh is dreaming as he is without his red cast.
The Ending of Super Dark Times With Alison
Any explanation you dream up can apply to Josh and Zach's story. Perhaps Josh went to Gaol and Zach moved away with his mom. Alison was just the love interest to propel Josh and Zach's story right? Seeing how she survived, that much is certain. Her scars get shown before she covers them with her hair showing she can keep them hidden and hide her past, or put her hair up and show people her past does not define her.
In an interview, the director Kevin Phillips mentioned that we as humans are mostly caught up in our own lives and our own turmoil. We forget that people who pass by have their own story (just as Alison does.) The end scene shows that Alison had things in her life other characters were unaware of that had no bearing on Zach or Josh's story. Life goes on if you choose it to and you have scars to remind you of your past.
Read the Theory Below and Answer the Poll
Theories on Super Dark Times
Is Alison a villain too? Hear me out. One person I talked to suggested as much and I was quick to shoot the theory down. The more I apply this idea to the story, the more evidence I dig up. It's clear Josh acted on his own to kill Daryl and John but was Alison in on it with him? Did she enjoy his dark side?
- Alison sees the police bashing the deer to put it out of its misery and doesn't look away in disgust. Instead, her eyes are wide in astonishment.
- Josh is instantly fired up when Zach tells him he and Alison spent time together because they were already together.
- Daryl was universally unpopular. Josh fights Daryl because he took the weed and then gives it away to Alison shortly after. Josh killed Daryl on purpose because he didn't like him. He didn’t care about the weed.
- Alison tells Zach that Josh has a crush on her and acts like nothing is going on. She wants Zach anyway, despite the friendship between him and Josh. Is she doing it for Josh?
- Megan's shown seriously injured, yet Alison has only superficial cuts to the back of her neck and was restrained poorly.
- Not knowing either Josh or Zach's fate leaves it open for a sequel. Alison could say Zach did it.
- The camera shows a boy sitting behind Alison in class while she traces her scars with her fingers. She puts her hair down trying to keep his attention. She can't hide her scars from him, he has already seen them.
© 2018 Movie Whisperer
Hdhs on January 01, 2019:
Movie Whisperer (author) from Moreton Bay, Queensland on July 17, 2018:
Interesting take Spel. Thanks for commenting.
Spel on July 17, 2018:
Zach was movin on up out of nerd clic,still a nice dude,josh got sick crazy jealous,josh wanted zach for himself,nobody,male or female could be down with zach except Josh's nerdy,funny,psychotic ass.dead it