Owen Campbell, Charlie Tahan, and Elizabeth Cappuccino go through some Super Dark Times in Kevin Phillips’ Tribeca-premiering feature debut. Also starring Max Talisman, Sawyer Barth and Amy Hargreaves, the harrowing feature follows Zach and Josh, two teenage best friends growing up in mid-‘90s suburbia whose lives are forever changed following an unexpected and horrific moment of violence.

“The film’s about some friends, and they kind of get into some sh*t with a samurai sword. It’s an accident, and it leads to a disaster, for not only their friendship, but for their lives, and for their young brains, I think,” Phillips says. “It just starts spiraling from there, and the guilt and paranoia that’s associated with this tragedy takes a toll.”

Starring in the role of Zach, Owen Campbell was interested in the “small issues and power dynamics of 15-, 16-year-old younger guys,” and the way in which Zach responds to the film’s tragic events. “When this act of violence happens and sort of shatters the group [of friends], Zach thinks of himself as a leader, and decides to take upon himself a lot of the guilt, and take on a lot of the responsibility of helping the friends navigate this tragedy, but he’s entirely emotionally ill-equipped to deal with that,” Campbell shares. “So instead, it just destroys his relationships with everyone.”

In confronting a project about the pitfalls of young masculinity, featuring young actors and a great deal of violence, both physical and psychological, Phillips naturally had some reluctance, but was able to proceed through the shoot by creating a safe environment for everyone involved. “I naturally was nervous about the material, and it was really important for me to just provide that space, I think, for everybody—not just these guys, but for the crew, as well,” the director says. “I think we all wanted to give it the respect that it deserved, so we could render a very honest interpretation of that.”

Super Dark Times was picked up by The Orchard in a worldwide rights deal in March.

To view Deadline’s conversation with the director and stars of Super Dark Times, click above. To find upcoming New York showtimes for the feature, click here.