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Donnie Darko

Dark. Darker. Darko. 

Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Richard Kelly 
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, James Duval  
An image from Donnie Darko

Buy Tickets on the SU Website:
19:30 Monday 11th March 2024


There aren’t many films that don’t fall into any particular genre. Donnie Darko is one of them. Though it definitely falls under thrilling, it is completely unique and incorporates everything from a teen flick to a supernatural drama. The story follows Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a teenager with psychological problems, who sleepwalks and faces hallucinations of Frank, a man in a scary bunny suit. Just to name a few examples, Frank convinces Donnie to flood his school and of the possibility of time travel but to say more would spoil the mystery of the film. With so many strange things happening throughout, Gyllenhaal is convincing as Donnie, and makes him likeable and somewhat relatable. There is never a dull or out of place moment and the supporting cast add some much needed realism and humour. By the end, everything comes together to explain what seems illogical and leaves you thinking but also in wonder. It is certainly worth watching.In one of the most enigmatic movies ever made, troubled teenager Donnie Darko (Gyllenhaal) narrowly escapes death when he goes sleepwalking on the night a jet engine crashes through his room. During the same night, he is told of the impending end of the world by Frank, a demonic, six-foot tall bunny rabbit (Duval). As Donnie battles to cope with this impossible revelation, on top of the pressures of school brainwashing, futile psychotherapy, and his awkward attraction to new girl Gretchen (Malone), his world slips further into the surreal.

Aaron Lee

Donnie Darko is a bizarre yet brilliant trip through the world of time travel and paradoxes, visions and insanity. Dark, artful and dangerously deep, this film has left countless audiences wondering exactly what they've seen, but in no way disappointed; this is a psychological thriller which intrigues far more than it scares. Be prepared for a script where every scene exists for a hidden reason, where every line builds up the mystery around you, and where absolutely nothing can be trusted.

Gyllenhaal pitches Donnie's mixed-up, heavily-medicated personality perfectly, to the point where you don't just believe in the sixteen year old, but truly sympathise with him. The array of strange, yet oddly believable, characters in his neighbourhood and their 1988 world are so beautifully crafted that it's impossible not to be drawn further into the story. Richard Kelly's most famous film is an absolute must-see, if only to travel down the rabbit hole and decipher the cryptic events within for yourself.

Scott Whiteside


If you've looked at any film magazine's end of year round up, you may have noticed a movie called "Donnie Darko" pretty high upon the list of the year's best films (usually number 1, or thereabouts). It's interesting then, that all the major cinema chains neglected one of the most incredible, exhilarating and intellectually stimulating films that has popped out of America's bosom in quite some time. This is a film that those who've seen it will rave about - its just a shame that there are so few of us out there. Therefore, in a bid to bring this wonderfully, dark film to the world, Warwick Student Cinema is showing it not once, but twice. This is mainly as a service to those people who, coming out of the first performance, will want to go in again immediately afterwards and go through the whole labyrinth again.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Donnie, a kid with some pretty serious psychological problems. For one thing, he's seeing visions of a demonic rabbit who first saves his life, and then prompts him into a series of ever- more bizarre acts, all the time reminding him that the end of the world is merely a month away. What is the rabbit up to? What relevance do The Smurfs have to everyday living? What on earth is Patrick Swayze's perverse motivational speaker really up to? And what the hell is the ending all about? To detail the plot would be to give answers to these questions, and this would be tantamount to a criminal offence. The plot is so multi- layered, so rich and so complex that it eschews linear description completely. The most accurate description would be that this is a work of genius.

First-time helmer Richard Kelly has both written an exceptional screenplay and directed an exceptional film. Veering easily between the fake pop- plasticity of the 1980's and the increasingly dark and bizarre world of Donnie's fantasies, he has created a genre film that escapes genre definitions; it's a delicious black comedy, a perceptive psychological study, a terrifying tale of personal apocalypse, and most importantly, a simply wonderful story of one kid and his demonic bunny friend.

Jake Gyllenhaal delivers what turned out to be the performance of the year - at once vulnerable and dangerously on the edge of sanity. He is ably supported by his fellow cast members, none of whom put a foot wrong, though it really is Donnie's dark world that captivates this film, and its willing audience. Everything about this film screams brilliance, and therefore "Donnie Darko" deserves a place on any critic's Top 10 list. Sway the balance, don't let this be one of the great lost films - see it and be amazed.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2006/2007 Spring Term (35mm)
2009/2010 Spring Term (35mm)
2009/2010 Spring Term (35mm)
2015/2016 Spring Term (35mm)
2021/2022 Autumn Term (digital)
2023/2024 Spring Term (digital)