ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Does Donnie Darko make the cult club?

Updated on March 12, 2014

Movie Title: Donnie Darko
Director: Richard Kelly
Writer: Richard Kelly
Date of Release: January 19, 2011
Nationality: American
Genre: Drama / Mystery / Sci-Fi


Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhal) is a schizophrenic teenager who decides to stop taking his medication which leads him to Frank (James Duval), a giant monstrous rabbit that encourages Donnie into vandalism and murder. On October 2, Donnie sleepwalks and encounters Frank, who tells him that the world will come to an end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. Shortly thereafter, a jet engine unknowingly crashes into the roof of Darko’s room, salvaging his life because he was sleepwalking that particular night. Troubled by this, Donnie attempts to hack time travel with the help of Grandma Death’s published work on time travel. His search leads to an impending doom that may or not be the growth of his insanity.


Donnie Darko has marginal grandeur through its heroic, depressed, and schizophrenic main character. Darko has a history of violence and is on and off with his medications. As a result, he begins having larger illusions of grandeur which lead him to believe committing several acts of vandalism, and eventually murder, will transform him into a hero. Karen Pomeroy (Drew Barrymore) is a teacher at the high school, Middlesex High School, with interesting teaching methods. Upon the arrival of new student, Gretchen Moss (Jenna Malone), she invites her to sit next to the boy she thinks is the cutest. Her unordinary teaching methods are highlighted by another teacher in the school, Kitty Farmer (Beth Grant), when she proposes that Graham Greene’s “The Destructors” is inappropriate reading material for school.

Richard Kelly’s film, even though it presented marginal topics of mental health and long standing theories of time travel, did not receive mass criticism or was withheld anywhere. The most criticism associated with the film is the criticism within story context of books and love-fear opposites.

Did Donnie Darko actually live in tangent universes?

See results

Economically, Donnie Darko ranks as one of the highest rated movie theatre flops. It was produced with a $6 million dollar budget and made back a mere $1.2 million back during its theatre stint. The release date being close to the events of 9/11 and the jet engine crash being central to the story did not aid in sales. DVD sales earned more than $10 million thanks to New York City’s Pioneer Theatre, however, which in wake of its box office flop, began showing the film at midnight showings.

Donnie Darko transgresses the notion of a boy battling serious mental health problems in a world stifled by its own problems which are made to look either black or white. What Donnie does; vandalizing his high school mascot, causing a flood in his school, and burning down the home of media darling who was actually an undercover child pornographer- it was all done in an attempt to save the world from impending doom. Someone with mental health issues with the nature of illusions of grandeur was capable of switching what were good and bad, and transforming it into a coup of salvation. The use of satire in the love-hate opposites proposed by motivational speaker Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze) is a commendable act of transgression. The films over the top mockery of the black and white divide of emotions, especially Darko’s mockery of it to his teacher, Kitty Farmer, transgressed the cultural norm of the happy go-lucky motivational speaker who is only posing as a get-rich scheme.


The Donnie Darko cult following is well known. After its box office flop, the film went to DVD and acquired a large following of teenagers whom believed in the reverence of the film. Darko is a niche film that enabled the creation of a lot of websites attempting to analyze and explain what the movie meant. There are multiple analyses of time travel and its relation to mental health, as well as multiple websites explaining the different universes’ Donnie Darko lives in throughout the story. The Frank bunny costume has been replicated over and over again as Halloween costumes and for fun by the avid fans of the movie. Here are some sites that attempt to explain the film through its time travel theme:

In fact, the Darko community began its growth during the midnight showings of the film in New York, when it received most of its genre credentials. There isn’t a known ongoing community of individuals who still get together for a ritualistic viewing of Donnie Darko, so the film ranges low on the criterion for community.

From its 80’s driven Gary Jules’ “Mad World” inclusive soundtrack, to “28 days… 6 hours… 42 minutes… 12 seconds. That… is when the world… will end”, Richard Kelly glorified Darko in its genre’s quotation heaven. Donnie and Frank’s interaction in the movie theatre in which Donnie questions why he is wearing “that stupid bunny suit” and Frank replies by asking him why he is wearing “that stupid human suit” is one of the most revered movie lines of our time. Even Karen Pomeroy’s (Drew Barrymore) request to Gretchen Moss (Jenna Malone) to “sit next to the boy [she] thinks is the cutest” has stood the test of time.

Needless to say, Donnie Darko established that depressed, schizophrenic teenagers too, could save the world. Thus, reviving the icon of the anti-hero waiting on the world to end.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)