“Donnie Darko” Movie to watch for Halloween

Donnie Darko

Released: 2001

Rated: R

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Drama

Director/Writer: Richard Kelly

Time: 1h 53m


5 stars

Donnie Darko, creepy, emotional, mind-bending Donnie, is on Netflix right now. And you know what that means! Halloween, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Drew Barrymore.

Besides my Jake and Drew, what I love about this movie is there is no easy interpretation; there’s no single, agreed upon understanding of the movie. When I was finished with Donnie, I was scared. It might have been a philosophical scare, but I was disturbed nonetheless and THAT is a successful Halloween.

What went down:

Donnie Darko is a lonely, kind, smart, and schizophrenic teenager who knows the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. Frank the Bunny Rabbit tells him that he must destroy things (flood the school, ax the school mascot, burn down a house, and die alone) to save the people from grave danger. Here’s where it gets science-y.

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At the beginning of the movie a jet engine crashes into Donnie’s room. He’s saved by Frank the Bunny Rabbit, who tells him to “come closer” until he’s safe and sound out of the house. This engine, coming from “nowhere” and having no validation for its existence, surely means that a Tangent Universe has appeared parallel to our Primary Universe; this is a problem because TU’s are highly unstable, and collapse into black holes shortly after inception. Donnie’s TU will collapse in 28 days. At that time, everything in the TU and PU (lol) will die. So, before time runs out, Donnie must return the engine (The Artifact) back to the PU and out of the TU where it cannot be handled without validation for existence.

And it gets weirder.

Donnie is the Living Receiver, the one chosen at random (or because the artifact crashed into his bedroom) to save the universe. Everyone around Donnie is either the Manipulated Living or the Manipulated Dead. The Dead are ghosts who will eventually die in the TU (at some point in the 28 days) and can time travel back to guide Donnie on his quest. The Manipulated Living are guided by water-like spears that run through their chests, which subconsciously move them to help Donnie overcome the TU.


Donnie is supposed to guide the Artifact through a time portal using telekinesis. The problem is, when the TU is gone there will be no Bunny Rabbit to wake him up and guide him out of the wreckage. And he’s scared to die alone.

Either all the above is real, or Donnie’s Kubrick Stare has actualized in his mind and this movie’s a metaphor for companionship and what happens when we lack it.

I loved this movie, it’s perfect for Halloween, with Frank’s chilling whispers and the overall theme of insanity.


And the best part:

“I’m reading, get out of my room.”-Donnie Darko

Modified Bunny image from here
Sparkle Motion Image found here
Modified Donnie image found here

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