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S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale

Released: 2009

Genre: Mystery & Suspense

Runtime: 1 hr 43 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Chris Fisher

Starring: Daveigh Chase, Briana Evigan, Ed Westwick

Direct-to-DVD sequel to Richard Kelly’s cult classic. Daveigh Chase returns as Samantha Darko, Donnie’s kid sis.

"S. Darko" unworthy sequel to cult classic.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 7 years ago

What's the most ridiculous thing you can imagine happening in a Donnie Darko sequel? Is it Elizabeth Berkley walking around with a book called Jesusonomy? That (and much more) happens in S. Darko, a direct-to-DVD sequel to Richard Kelly's 2001 cult fave. It's more like a spinoff than a sequel. The closest thing I can compare it to is Walter Murch's Return to Oz, which used some of the same characters from The Wizard of Oz but felt completely alien to the spirit of the original.

As the title suggests, S. Darko concerns Donnie's kid sister, Samantha (Daveigh Chase). Seven years have passed since her brother's death (the film is set in 1995). Sam has run away from her home in Middlesex, Virginia, and set off for Hollywood. This backstory is explained in a ludicrous epilogue that I can't resist quoting from: Sam is "seemingly alone and lost in the world." She's "drowning in sadness and unable to dream." Oh, and "when darkness consumes the starlight, nightmares rule the night." Is this movie for real or what?

Sam and her bitchy friend Corey (Briana Evigan) get sidetracked on the way to Hollywood and end up in a bumfuck town in Utah. There, she learns the world will end in 4 days, 17 hours, 26 minutes and 31 seconds. In a place like this, the end can't come soon enough.

Just like that doomsday countdown, there are other "quotes" from the original. Roberta Sparrow's grandson, Iraq Jack (James Lafferty), says "they made me do it" (a phrase Donnie scrawled on the pavement after vandalizing his school). There's a character named Frank (as in Frank the Giant Bunny Rabbit). A portal opens up in an empty movie theater. Time travel plays a big part, as does Roberta Sparrow's book, The Philosophy of Time Travel. And so on. If you think the experience of watching a Donnie Darko sequel made without Kelly's blessing might feel slightly sacrilegious, you wouldn't be half wrong.

The original inspired fierce love and passionate debate. I used to watch it about once a week, and with each viewing, I felt like the puzzle pieces would add up to something even more profound than the conclusions I drew the last time. S. Darko inspires nothing but confusion; it's disjointed and meaningless. It has missing kids, ghosts, a car crash, scenes that double back on themselves - but none of it connects. It's an insult to Richard Kelly's intelligence.

On the plus side, the film features some witty casting. Chase is the same little girl from the original, now all grow'd up. It's funny to see Berkley (from Showgirls) looking all churchy and self-righteous. Lensing, scoring and FX work are all top-notch. See it if you must, but for me this story ended when David waved at Gretchen in the street at the end of the original - the ultimate hello and goodbye.