--Reviewed by Lindy Loo
Originally it had never really dawned on me that Donnie Darko could be considered a horror movie. Then I rented the director's cut this weekend...
Plotline: Donnie Darko, your average angsty and confused high school student, is suffering from "delusions" revolving around a large and terrifying bunny named Frank who urges him to burn houses down and flood schools. The movie takes place in the time leading up to the alleged "end of the world" as Donnie's demons unleash themselves and he struggles to figure out who he is, who Frank is, and what's going on in the universe.
Director's Cut vs. The Original: I still am a sucker for the original, but the Director's Cut was definitely not disappointing. (Read about the differences between the original and the director's cut here). The reason I am a sucker for the original is that it was so mysterious and there was no map of understanding laid out in front of you for you to make sense of it all--the first time I saw this movie, I spent about 2 hours with my boyfriend, diagramming and rediagramming the jet engine moments and trying to make sense of what was going on in the universe of Donnie Darko. We were feverish and entranced in our intensity to make sense of it all. We were smitten with the movie. The director's cut gives much more guidance in understanding what Richard Kelly was trying to do--he sections the movie up with chapters from the Roberta Sparrow book which guide the viewer as to a) what is going on in these particular scenes and b) what is going on in the movie overall. A lot less is left up to the imagination. There are also more moments of discussion about the time/space continuum and time travel.
Now, as I stated earlier, I had never really thought of Donnie Darko as a horror movie. For some reason, this had never even crossed my mind. Perhaps because the characters are actually three-dimensional and not just the punching bag for evil beings. Perhaps because anyone who actually went to high school can easily relate to Donnie Darko. Perhaps because it is intelligent, complicated, spills over into philosophical realms and is psychologically taut. However, the director's cut is much more sober than the original--since it is longer, the funny moments are kind of overtaken by the darker instances. This is what made it suddenly dawn on me that, hell, this sorta is a horror movie. I mean, you have nods to other horror movies (Evil Dead) and other 80's movies as well (Back to the Future, E.T.). And more importantly, you have this creepy-ass demonic-like bunny that looks like it crawled out of hell guiding Donnie onto a path towards destruction and death. Definitely has the components of a horror movie. And yet it's complicated. And it's good. And it's meaty and intelligent.
Scariness factor: The creepiness factor is high on this--there are no real jump-in-your-seat moments, but the bunny creature Frank (shown above) is enough to make it difficult for anyone to fall asleep. Plus, all the talk of tangent universes and the end of the world will no doubt leave you unsettled and squeamish. This movie is scary the way thinking about death and the end of it all and infinity is scary.
Originality: Ridiculously, jaw-gapingly original in its delving into time travel and the nature of the universe. Looks at the complexity of teenage brains and ties that into the terrifyingness of mental health and madness and the complexity of the nature of the universe. I mean, what more can you ask for?
Other Complaints: None. I love this movie.
Other High Points: Fantastic soundtrack and score--fantastic timing of scenes in relation to soundtrack and score. Damn freaky bunny costume that will give you nightmares.
Overall: Totally worth renting. Will stretch your brain and make your skin crawl at the same time.
Labels: A movies