Donnie Darko, flop or cult classic?

Delia Brandel

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December 6, 2023

Donnie Darko, flop or cult classic?

“Donnie Darko” is a psychological thriller with a cult following released in 2001.

Set in October 1988, the film stars a young Jake Gylenhall (Donnie) along with other well known actors including both Drew Barrymore (Karen Pomeroy) and a brief Seth Rogan appearance as the bully known as Ricky Danforth.

The movie follows Donnie, a troubled teenage boy struggling with the everyday trials of his private school and home life, along with his violent and world altering visual and auditory hallucinations.

Donnie follows one of these hallucinations to a golf course, where he is formally introduced to the influential and extremely off-putting hallucination of “Frank” who claims to be a time traveler.

Frank is an over six-foot-man in a bunny suit, who gives directions and instructions to Donnie after explaining that the world will end in exactly 28 days, six hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds.

After walking back to his house, he is greeted by police and firemen explaining that the engine from an airplane detached and fell directly onto his home where his two sisters and parents were sleeping.

It is discovered that if Donnie had been in his bed at the time of the incident, the engine would have landed directly on top of his room and killed him.

Thus begins the extremely confusing and enthralling world of “Donnie Darko.” Alongside his new love interest Gretchen and his psychedelic companion Frank, Donnie begins causing chaos within their town.

With each day that passes, the countdown gets more and more menacing. Donnie fears he won’t be able to save the world in time with his new but limited knowledge of time travel.

For under two hours, this movie is jam packed with plot lines that don’t fully intersect until the very end (or at all, in some cases). “Donnie Darko” tackles time travel, religion, mental health and mystery while remaining funny and only slightly overwhelming.

This movie, along with many other cult classics, did pretty horrible at the box office. Now though, it has a book, one really bad sequel and another one in the works.

Teenagers of the past decades have begun to praise smaller thriller/horror movies like “Donnie Darko,” their cheesy special effects and killer soundtracks are the perfect mix of unique and nostalgic.

Many even slammed the movie for its confusing and open-ended ending, starting a T-shirt and poster trend with the slogan “Donnie Darko Makes No Sense”

Personally, “Donnie Darko” has a special place in my heart as my friends and I used to watch it together during the fall season. It’s a wonderful movie to watch with someone you don’t know very well, you can always guarantee a heated debate about theories when it ends.

Overall, I would give this movie a 9/10, definitely a little hokey but a good watch with others or by yourself on a cold autumn night.

Brandel can be reached at [email protected].