May 2017


Donnie Darko
Arrow Films/MVD
Blu-ray Review By: Jaime Pina

A deeply personal film released in 2001 but sharing something in common with other earlier offbeat horror/fantasy films like Near Dark and The Dark Backward. Shot on a tight 28-day schedule (the film itself revolves around 28 days in the life of the title character) it is a surreal and thought-provoking work that was a little too weird for the mainstream. It was given a very limited theatrical release just after 9/11 in the US and didn’t do very well at the box office. It did get some good critical reviews and started to grow a very large cult following on cable and VHS.

Donnie is a troubled young man who is haunted by someone wearing a demonic bunny costume and apocalyptic visions. He meets a girl and is commanded by the bunny to do destructive things. Title cards indicate that we are heading towards a big event. We watch as Donnie deals with these weird things happening to him all the while juggling school and parents as well.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Mary McDonnel and Drew Barrymore give outstanding performances among a brilliant cast. The film is shot with eerie dark scenes and scenes of golden daylight. Donnie Darko pulls the viewer in a lot of different directions but everything comes together into a satisfying and touching ending. It takes place in the 80’s and has outstanding music from the era including Tears For Fears, Echo and the Bunnymen and Duran Duran. And the late Patrick Swayze turns in a wicked performance in a small role that is essential to the film’s cynical tone.

Arrow has put together a stunning box set with 4 discs and hours and hours of extras. Containing both the theatrical and director’s cuts of Donnie Darko, both versions look and sound amazing. The limited edition set also contains a booklet and while the film has been released a few times now on home video this Blu-ray/DVD combo set may be the upgrade fans have waited for.