Darkon is an award-winning feature-length documentary film that follows the real-life adventures of the Darkon Wargaming Club in Baltimore, Maryland, a group of fantasy live-action role-playing (LARP) gamers.
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★★★½ review by Jeff on Letterboxd
Rewatched because I thought I didn't remember it very well. Was only kind of true.
A large part of the documentary deals with the internal politics of the game/fantasy world of Darkon. And while it's slightly amusing listening to these people talk entirely in super dramatic speeches, it's about as entertaining as exposition in any other fantasy movie (i.e. boring). The film is far more interesting when it's delving into the participants' real lives and why they are so devoted to this other life they have created for themselves.
Despite my misgivings toward the fantasy aspects of Darkon, the final battle is absolutely amazing. The filmmakers pulled out all the stops to make a bunch of grown men hitting each other with rubber swords look epic as fuck: swooping crane shots, slo-mo, steadicam, slowed frame rates ... it's really phenomenal.
★★★★★ review by Cameron Croston on Letterboxd
The sword, the shield, and the American dream.
★★★½ review by RigelDC on Letterboxd
Somewhere in the deepest, darkest suburbs of Baltimore, MD, a group of warriors, wizards, and elves are conquering the various lands of Darkon, a variety of homebrew LARP that involves roleplayed battles with foam weapons, campouts to stage imaginary adventures, and a lot of angst. The documentary revolves around the leaders of two factions in a run-up to a climactic battle. The film's only narration is in the form of occasional placards dramatizing the progression of the story in game-speak. It does a great job of portraying the fictional drama of the LARP in an engaging and accessible manner while balancing it with the real life negotiating, home/work lives, and families of those involved. While absorbing, I couldn't help noticing that every person the camera focused on was lower middle class, and expressed a variety of social, psychological, or anger management issues. An ex-stripper living in her parents' basement, an obsessed family man who admits to anger issues and is depicted as having difficulties separating his in-game relationships from his real ones, a kid with a job at Starbucks who goes on at length about his social disorders, and other participants who express their involvement as a way to vent their angers, or inabilities to cope or succeed. The film is non-judgmental and the players volunteer their own evidence, although it's hard to tell if the editing equals cherry-picking to depict a specific implied analysis or not. The resolution is predictable based on the leadership capabilities of those involved, but the getting there is where the interest is at, even if it's limited to a collection of small armies in the Baltimore exurbs.
★★★★ review by Joshua Hoover on Letterboxd
"Everybody wants to be a hero, and in everyday life, most of the time you don't get to be the hero."
A terrific comedy action documentary.
★★★★ review by jesse hicks on Letterboxd
this is a great documentary about live action role players inhabiting the world of Darkon near Baltimore, Maryland. very sad
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