Indie horrors are often classed as some of the best ones out there. It Follows, The Blair Witch Project and Saw are all examples of the indie horror genre creating something, a story so disturbing and chilling, that it lingers. Netflix has done that with Super Dark Times.
Super Dark Times follows best friends Zach and Josh as they navigate teenage life in the 1990s. However, a gruesome accident leads to a secret they need to keep, which eventually drives a wedge between them, propelling them down a rabbit hole of escalating paranoia and violence.
Sounds cheery, right? In some ways, it is. The film, despite its heavy storyline, doesn’t scare from lingering on small scraps of hope. It takes banal things, like a first kiss, riding a bike with your best friend, and listening to music on a Walkman, and makes them a signifier of life with hope and without guilt.
Zach, played by Owen Campbell, is brilliant as the conflicted voice of reason. His ability to flit between sadness, happiness, paranoia, and fear without warning brings a dimension to his character that is often lacking in modern horror.
His best friend, Josh (Charlie Tahan), is equally good at playing the tortured teen. His descent into madness and violence is dark, brooding and disturbing. What can be noticed, is even though he spends most of his time moving in the shadows, his lack of presence on screen is not felt by the viewer. Even when you can’t see him, his character is there, lurking, plotting.
This movie is like a cross between Stand by Me and Scream. A weird combination, but the pairing creates a thriller that is so black and almost completely without humour, that it should come across as flat and uninteresting. Instead, its complete lack of black humour creates a nasty thriller, that pulls you in because it feels like your life as a teen is being compromised.
The story can be a bit plodding at times, taking too many cues from the lingering fear. However, this makes the eeriness of it all the more consuming. This movie doesn’t want you to be entertained. It wants you to be gripped, scared into your seat, unmoving. It wants to disturb you into watching.
The whole premise of the film is most people’s worst nightmare. An accident that could change your whole life and that ruins all of your friendships all at once. A car crash of emotion, a sinewy mess of blood, tears, and human. This movie is the embodiment of the first scene: a stag, bloodied and torn, still alive, waiting to be put out of its misery.
This film is beautiful, too. The cinematography is intricately planned out: every shot, every second, has meaning. Nothing is out of place. Most of the emotion and tension is created through the way something is shot, or what isn’t shot. It’s a story made of pictures.
This film is begging to be watched and appreciated. If you want to be entertained, do not watch it. If you wanted to be thrilled, mouth gaping, eyes wide: watch it. It will not disappoint.
If you’re looking for more horror, our Top 5 Halloween Movies is sure to scare you silly.