Donnie Darko (2001) - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama / Mystery
Fox || R - 113 minutes - $34.98 || February 10, 2009
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2009-02-27

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Richard Kelly
Writer(s): Richard Kelly (written by)
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daveigh Chase, James Duval, Holmes Osborne

Theatrical Release Date: January 19, 2001

Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Audio Commentaries
  • Production Diary
  • The Cult of Donnie Darko
  • #1 Fan: A Darko-mentary
  • Storyboard to Screen
  • Theatrical Trailer

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (Dolby Surround 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

So rather than start this review off with a paragraph with an interesting story, Iím choosing to talk about my life. Well, thereís not much going on, so that ends that segment.

Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is your typical high school student, and by typical I mean slightly insane. At dinner he continually fights with his father Eddie (Holmes Osborne), mother Rose (Mary McDonnell), his sister Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and his other sister Samantha (Daveigh Chase). Donnie has been off his medication for his psychotic behavior, or something like that, and Elizabeth lets it slip which causes Donnie to get reamed out by his parents for it.

Later that night after everyoneís gone to bed, Donnie sleepwalks (well, sort of, a voice calls him out of the house) and ends up passing out somewhere in town. He comes home to find a giant airplane part in his bedroom (Which would have killed him if he hadnít of gotten up to follow the voice, apparently thatís important later on) and his family in shock because they thought he was dead. The family is relieved, but Donnie thinks that there is something amiss here. From now on we get some weird book opening to pages every ten minutes or so explaining some rather weird and cryptic things.

So back at school Donnie is now known, even though he doesnít want to be, by his classmates and one day he meets Gretchen (Jena Malone) at the bus stop who is being harassed by two boys from class. He walks her home and the two hit it off. This is, of course, after one night when Frank (who is dressed up like a bunny for some odd reason you find out later in the movie) instructs Donnie to take an axe to the school. It turns out that Donnie destroyed a water pipe during his sleep and flooded the school, hence causing the meeting between him and Gretchen to happen and their relationship to develop.

If you havenít figured it out by now, this is one of those films that make you think ďhey if this happens then this wouldnít haveĒ sort of approach. Now, more of the story.

Donnie and Gretchen continue to flirt with one another all the while other things are happening in the world. Samanthaís dancing instructor Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze) is also a motivational speaker of some type, and decides to do a speech at the high school. Donnie, in true emo ďI hate the worldĒ fashion, decides to publically embarrass Cunningham in front of his classmates. He is suspended for it, but still thinks he did the right thing.

Later in the night, Frank once again instructs Donnie to do something, this time itís against Cunningham and it involves fire. Cunninghamís mansion is burnt down from the fire, but not before itís found out he hasÖ well letís just say heís not a good person. The arson is a mystery to the police, but the voice is telling Donnie to do things that end up working out in the end, right?

I ended up watching this movie a few years back with one of (at the time) my girlfriends and she loved the movie and I never understood it. We watched the original version, and this time around I watched the directorís cut (which is nearly twenty minutes longer) and I still didnít enjoy it. I understand the whole concept about choices and the whole time continuum thing; it just wasnít satisfying for me. I know this film has a giant cult following, but I donít get why. The acting isnít that great, and the movie dragged on for me much longer than it should have.



Audio Commentary with Richard Kelly and Kevin Smith: Smith tags along on this commentary to provide humor and setup Kelly throughout. Smith is fairly funny on this one, not his best though, but still itís worth a listen if you are a big fan of his. *Note, this is for the theatrical version only*

Audio Commentary with Richard Kelly and Jake Gyllenhaal: The two discuss the film and point out some interesting facts, as well as poke fun at Jakeís sister Maggie throughout. This is a fairly well done commentary that deserves a listen to. *Note, this is for the theatrical version only*

Audio Commentary with Cast and Crew: A slew of people join together for this commentary, including Maggie Gyllenhaal and the rest of the family from the flick. Normally commentaries are limited to three people at best because anymore people tend to talk over one-another, and thatís the result of this track. Itís a bit entertaining, but they manage to over talk each other a bit too much throughout. *Note, this is for the theatrical version only*


Production Diary (53 minutes): A basic ďmaking-ofĒ feature that details different parts of the film. It is incredibly lengthy, so it should keep fans of the movie interested for the near hour length.

The Cult of Donnie Darko (28 minutes): A look at some of the kids who follow the film like a ďcult.Ē Personally I didnít think it deserved that much attention, but others disagree apparently.

#1 Fan: A Darkomentary (13 minutes): The winner of some sort of competition gets their thirteen minutes of fame in this extra. A rather odd extra, Iím not really sure what the point is, but congrats on who made it onto the extras. Finally, there is a Storyboard-to-Screen feature and the filmís Theatrical Trailer is presented. Missing strangely enough is the theme song from the film, ďMad World,Ē along with a few other features.


Normally it takes a few minutes into watching the film to notice a few off things about the picture, but it took maybe a minute to notice a few viable objects. First, whites in some scenes are too bright, thereís one scene near the bus stop where Donnieís shirt makes him look like a ghost. Second, contrast is also heavily off throughout the film, mainly in the dark scenes where grain is apparent as well. Finally, the movie has a rather dark overtone to it, which does include some issues with the contrast. I canít comment whether this is an upgrade from the DVD version, but in my opinion this is a rather sub-par transfer.

The audio side is a tad bit better, as the surrounds were used constantly from the middle of the flick to the end when the action picks up. Also, the beginning sequence sounded absolutely amazing in my system, but after that until the middle of the film it was rather dull and quiet. The movie is somewhat dialogue centered, but doesnít really suffer that much from it. Levels are consistent and clear, and there was rarely a time when I had to turn up the volume to hear the cast. This is a great audio track, but I just feel that it could have been a tad better with surround usage.


Having seen Donnie Darko twice now, I still donít understand all the hype and cult followings behind it. Itís just an average movie with an ending that leaves it up to the viewer to decide the whole meaning of the film. The video isnít the best, but the audio and supplements package are a tremendous boost to fans and newcomers. If you havenít seen this yet, then rent the blu-ray. Fans of the film already have all the special features from the other recent releases of it, so I donít see a reason for them to upgrade except for the better audio/video package. Emo kids rejoice, your film has arrived on Blu-Ray. That gives you something to finally be happy about right?