Ever watch a movie that you can’t quite put in a box? The successful ones are few and far between.

One of those is kind-of-horror, kind-of-halloweeny mystery, with some added time-travel, fantasy and psychological thriller, “Donnie Darko”. If you really think hard about it, “Donnie Darko” can even be just another superhero movie where the superhero makes the ultimate sacrifice.

What genre do you think it is?

The poster of Donnie Darko where loads of stills from the film make up the silhouette of a bunny

The bunny will come and get you!

What is this film?

“Donnie Darko” (2001) is an original screenplay written and directed by Richard Kelly who managed to pull this off as his first feature film.

The film is scattered with famous faces, both faces that were famous at the time like Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze, and also faces that has since become a staple on the silver screen, like siblings Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Not-Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain and Dark Knight Batman’s love interest).

The movie follows Donnie Darko, a youth dealing with “mental issues” and a big bunny Frank who tells him to do stuff. Whether the stuff is good or bad is really in the eye of the beholder.


Is it any good?

This is a mind-fuck movie.

And I love me a good mind-fuck movie, because there are a lot of great attempts, but only a select few that will actually mess with your brain.

By mind-fuck movie, I mean that by the end of the movie, your brain should be pounding after the excruciating effort it did of trying to makes sense of what just happened.

And even though there are dragged-out sequences in semi- slow motion, that at least now seems like something every graduate from film school coughs up, at least in “Donnie Darko” it’s a thing that permeates the movie on so many degrees that after a while I am kind of fine with it.

Even footage speeded-up or run backwards has some merit here where the topic at hand is time travel.


Frank – the bunny

If someone has ever created a bunny that I would not want to meet in a dark alley, it is this one.
And because it has such a comforting outline paired with such a hideous grin, the creepiness doesn’t evaporate when you get a full frontal look. I still find it scary even then.

Bunnies are aparently a recurring theme in the film, if you can bother to look back and find the long list of shots found by die-hard fans. Also the number eight has people counting and over-thinking things.

Funnily enough, all these details that add up in the end and all the background information that links to different scenes are probably the reason why “Donnie Darko” has gone kult. It rewards the adamant viewers who come back and back again with new little nuggets of a-ha moments.


The Time Travel Thing

Yes, there is time-travel and yes it feels rather believable. I mean, they did bring in Stephen Hawkins and everything 😉

To really understand the idea of time travel used in this movie, I would recommend checking out the chapter descriptions of the fictional book “The Philosophy of Time Travel” which Donnie Darko is obsessed with in the film.

I would never suggest to anyone to go read this explanation before you watch the movie. Let your mind be rattled and see where you end up. What explanation did you come up with?

Once you have watched the movie and made up your mind though, it can be great to see where Richard Kelly was coming from. It won’t necessarily give you a lot of answers but it might make you a little less of a question mark than you initially were.


What mood should you be in?

It fits well in a setting where you kind of want to watch a horror and be a bit freaked out, but you don’t think a good-ol’ slasher is going to do the job.

You also will need some patience. The film is in parts slow-paced, probably due to the inexperience of its first-time director, but fear you not. It is worthwhile to get to the end.

(Although my boyfriend couldn’t handle it and fell asleep).

Be aware that people are prone to lose their thoughts ever so slightly to the vast questions of time and space, fear and love, after watching. But challenge your brain once in a while why don’t yah.


Further Watching

Want some more mind-fuckers? Go for the movie told backwards – “Memento” (2000), the movie told in really short cuts – “Requiem for a Dream” (2000), the movie told in disappearing memories – “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004), or the one with the dreams within dreams – “Inception” (2010).

If your mind has been sufficiently fucked, take a look at “Harvey” from 1950. Whether a conscious nod to this film or a total coincidence, it is worth looking at another film that has chosen a giant bunny as the imaginary friend. And how completely different it has been interpreted.


If you like what I read, follow my blog and get ideas on what movies are worth spending your time on. I mean, some 3 hour movies will just steal from your life. Let it only be my life 😉

Next week I will look at the next movie on the ImDb top 250 list: #6 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. For now you can read #5: Pulp Fiction.


Still from Donnie Darko where someone has written "They made me do it" on the ground

The bunny makes him do it!


Who am I?

I’m a freelance writer who likes to watch movies. I watch Netflix a lot and sometimes there is a long way between the really good movies, whether good means entertaining or profound.

To help you avoid watching all the crap I have had to endure, I will give you some hidden gems or best movies of Netflix right here every month.

Want another good Netflix movie? Check out the chilling community in “Winter’s Bone”!


Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies that will make these reviews beneficial to you, whether you follow my advice or not 😉


Where can you find the film?

All movies in this Netflix-series can be found in the Norwegian Netflix Catalogue, which is the one I have access to.

If you can’t find it on your local Netflix? File a complaint, they really should have it 😉


If you like what I write, please give me your favourite movie in the comments so I can put it on my list of reviews or sign-up to read my next blog post 😉