Super Dark Times is a flawed, but encouraging debut from Ken Phillips.
A major strength of the film is the photography—particularly in the early moments of the film. Phillips shoots these gorgeous bare trees of upstate New York. He shoots the fog hanging on the lake and has several magic hour silhouette cinematic paintings (see above) that command your attention (and the immediate researching on your phone of who Ken Phillips is and hoping he has something new coming up soon). Still, these are fleeing moments in the film—not a dominant portion of the running time by any means.
Another strong point is the authentic banter between the young characters. It is precipitously written and grounded in the 1990’s: Bill Clinton on TV, the lack of cell phones, the scrambled porn station.
It contains some ethereal surrealism sequences—it is hard to know if Zach (played by Owen Campbell) is in his own head, or if Josh (a talented Charlie Tahan) is indeed becoming a monster.
Though Tahan does a good job, the narrative never properly establishes his character. It is a defect—I think the writers like the cliffhanger aspect of whether Zach is losing it or not more than the character development and that’s a shame.
Lastly, the film’s ending focuses on Allison (played by Elizabeth Cappuccino) which is a missed opportunity
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