Category: impulse buys / In category: 5 of 10 / Overall: 52 of 100
It was in a sale so damn cheap it was cheaper than the price of a rental.
To be honest, morbid curiosity.
A derivative and singularly unimpressive sequel. A needless and misconceived piece of work. But something surely not as bad as the consensus of critical opinion would have us believe – surely not!
Where do I start?
Where the hell do I start?
Title’s as good a place as any, I guess. ‘S. Darko’. Why in holy hell call it ‘S. Darko’? Yes, it’s a sequel to ‘Donnie Darko’ but without the title character given what happens at the end of the first movie. A sequel that focuses on his sister. Samantha. Or Sam as she calls herself. Therefore, you have the options of ‘Samantha Darko’ or ‘Sam Darko’ by way of a title. Fuck, even ‘Sammi’, ‘Sammikins’ or ‘Sam-a-ram-a-ding-dong Darko’ is better than ‘S. Darko’. Who uses an initial in a movie title?
Moving on. Let’s consider the, ahem, plot. A title scroll in a horrible font informs us that it’s been seven years since Donnie Darko rode the night train to the big adios (I’m paraphrasing here). His little sis (Daveigh Chase) is drifting, directionless, plagued by bad dreams. On a cross-America trip with white-trash BFF Corey (Briana Evigan), Samantha finds herself stranded in a small town when their car breaks down and they’re offered a lift by town bad boy and drunkard Randy (Ed Westwick). Corey and Randy hit it off. Samantha catches the eye of über-geek Jeremy (Jackson Rathbone). The girls fetch up at a motel owned by a UFO obsessive. Samantha’s sleepwalking brings her into contact with good-ole-boy cop Officer O’Dell (Bret Roberts) who warns her that the town is being stalked by a pervert responsible for the disappearance of two children. Number one suspect is crazy-talking vagrant and former US infantryman “Iraq Jack” (James Lafferty). Iraq Jack is warned by a ghostly version of Samantha that the world is about to end.
Anyone picking up on a ‘Twin Peaks’ vibe yet? Director Chris Fisher’s aesthetic of small town weird is trés David Lynch, right down to images like these:
In fact, ‘S. Darko’ often feels like a David Lynch film with production design by Alejandro Jodorowsky from an original script by some talentless hack straight off the latest Stephanie Meyer adaptation and casting by whoever picks the pretty young things for ‘One Tree Hill’ and ‘Gossip Girl’ (I doubt it’s coincidence that most of the cast hail from these kind of shows). It’s obvious Chris Fisher wanted to take a mind-blowing and consciousness-altering trip through Weirdsville USA; unfortunately he finds himself as stalled and lacking in momentum as his heroines, stuck somewhere between Whatthefucksville and Whogivesafucktown.
It’s not that ‘S. Darko’ fails by dint of being incomprehensible, illogical and often jaw-droppingly random. Quite the contrary: its mishmash of disconnected scenes, impenetrable characters and meaningless juxtapositions occasionally fuse into a dementedly glorious trainwreck of a movie that’s perversely magnificent to behold. ‘S. Darko’ boasts intermittent swathes of running time so stupendously bad it comes close to inspiring the same kind of delirious oh-fuck-this-is-so-awful-I’m-loving-it response usually reserved for the poetry of William McGonigall or novelty singles like ‘Mambo No. 5’.
No, what drives a stake through the heart of the film, hangs garlic around its neck, shoves a crucifix where the sun don’t shine then nails the coffin lid down is that it keeps fucking nicking bits from the original! Slo-mo/speeded-up segues during a party sequence – check! Camera slowly rolling through a 90º angle as a character leaps into frame – check! Watery, umbilical-like tendrils leading somnolent characters towards their destiny – check! A devout religious character with a dark secret – check! A freaky dude in a rabbit mask – check! A car accident at a pivotal moment in the movie – check! A heroic act of self-sacrifice for the betterment of etc etc etc – check! A second heroic act of self-sacrifice for the betterment of etc etc etc just in case we didn’t get the point first time round – check! A flashback to Sparkle Motion, for fuck’s sake – check! Iraq Jack as the grandson of Roberta (Grandma Death) Sparrow – oh, yeah, you’d better believe it!
I guess the intent was to conjure the pervasive and enigmatic atmosphere of Richard Kelly’s cult classic. And herein lies the flaw. ‘Donnie Darko’ works – and works beautifully – because of its internal logic, flawless structure and emotional investment in its characters. Fisher’s preening sequel doesn’t even try for such things.
Everything adds up to bad buy, but seeing as it cost me so little I’m kind of glad I did buy it. For one thing, I fully intend to lend this movie to everyone who will even consider sliding it into their DVD player, purely to gauge just how aghast their reaction is.
Also, I have this crazy scheme of one day getting totally wrecked and using ‘S. Darko’ to kick start a head-fuck triple bill which will also take in ‘Twin Peaks – Fire Walk With Me’ and ‘El Topo’. Because, you know, it’s important to have ambitions.