Four young friends walking and talking on a restricted bridge is an iconic image well-remembered from Rob Reiner’s classic Stand by Me. That’s one of the many movies lightly echoed in first-time feature director Kevin Phillips’ atmospheric, remarkably assured 1995-set thriller Super Dark Times. In an exclusive clip from the movie (above), we hear some very adult dialogue (as in, high school era) between four friends as they cross a bridge; one kid talks about Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance in 1994’s True Lies, among other random topics.
The kids here are played by Owen Campbell (Boardwalk Empire and The Americans), Charlie Tahan (Wayward Pines and Love is Strange), Max Talisman (Orange is the New Black), and Sawyer Barth (TNT’s Public Morals). Early in the movie, a gruesome accident involving a samurai sword sets into motion a series of unsettling events. And though the script by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski (writers of the upcoming horror film Stephanie) references cult movie touchstones like Donnie Darko and River’s Edge, the film shines as a trenchant, nuanced exploration of how shifting friendship dynamics in high school can feel like violent trauma. In the film’s two most crucial roles, Campbell and Tahan deliver performances that resonate with subtext and the plain, genuine awkwardness of being a teenager.
Super Dark Times receives its North American premiere on April 20 at the Tribeca Film Festival. It will be released in theaters later this year by film distributor The Orchard.