The Film Stage
Virtually free from quirk and black humor, the film is an effective, nasty thriller and a rare horror film that provides an emotional investment because the portrait of teenhood is utterly authentic.
The Hollywood Reporter
Strikingly shot, edited and scored, with convincing and vivid performances from a youthful cast, the picture loses its footing in the final stretch but should still take high rank among U.S. debuts of its ilk this year
We Got This Covered
Debuts shouldn’t be this tense or composed, yet Super Dark Times is an instantaneous must-see.
It’s hard not to appreciate the astute ways the script captures the moment when carefree childhood turns into the loss of innocence.
Phillips’ collaborators work in harmony with the natural, nuanced acting; credits across the board are stylish and smooth, with lensing a standout. Also of particular note is the design; a rich, forest-driven colour saturation which suits the hooded houses and shadowy driveways of these traumatised teens.
For all its flaws, or rather for all the magnitude of its one massive flaw, it is more sincere than arch, and more earnest, certainly in its desire to get its makers onto the radar, than glib.
Shot with the stoic confidence of a capable young director flexing his muscles, Super Dark Times is visceral and gripping throughout, its probing compositions forcing you to peer deeper and deeper into the darkness.
The A.V. Club
Did the super dark times need to arrive at all? If the scenes of shit-kicking naturalism feel authentic, the thriller that replaces them — a kind of junior "A Simple Plan" — relies too heavily on unconvincing psychology.
The transformation of a teen into a serial killer isn't credible compared to the portrait of idle suburban adolescence.
Phillips simply tries to do too much.