Darkon ★★★½

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.