Writer-director Richard Kelly (Southland Tales, The Box) helms this cult classic that’s still as puzzling now as when it first came out in 2001. Set during the 1988 presidential election, the story focuses on Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal, in a powerhouse performance), a troubled teenager who sleepwalks out of his house one night and encounters Frank (James Duval), a mysterious figure in a monstrous rabbit costume who tells Donnie the world will end in exactly 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds.
Donnie awakens the next morning on a golf course, and when he returns home, he discovers his bedroom has been destroyed by a jet engine that inexplicably fell out of the sky, and that Frank and his sleepwalking saved him from a deadly freak accident. So begins a confounding sci-fi story about time travel and alternative realities … or is Donnie just mentally ill?
Endlessly inventive, wholly original, and absolutely weird, this hazy fever-dream of a story absolutely deserves its reputation as a cult classic. The terrific cast includes Jena Malone, Jake’s real-life sister Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Katherine Ross, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, and Patrick Swayze, among others. This one’s best seen on the big screen. (113 min.)