The term ‘cult classic’ too often gets tossed around with wild abandon, but one film that truly embodies the label is 2001’s Donnie Darko, which is heading back to UK cinemas with a beautiful 4K restoration.
A true cinematic misfit upon its release, packed with ‘80s synth tunes and visuals years before everyone was doing it, the offbeat sci-fi horror drama initially struggled to get released before gradually finding its audience on home video. Providing breakthrough roles for both Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the film’s eclectic cast also included Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore, Oscar nominee Mary McDonnell and May/Go star James Duval.
Fifteen years before ‘Stranger Things’ combined science-fiction, Spielberg-ian touches and 80s nostalgia to much acclaim, Writer/Director Richard Kelly set the template and the high-water mark with his debut feature, ‘Donnie Darko’. Initially beset with distribution problems, it would slowly find its audience and emerge as arguably the first cult classic of the new millennium.
Donnie is a troubled high school student: in therapy, prone to sleepwalking and in possession of an imaginary friend, a six-foot rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world is going to end in 28 days 06 hours 42 minutes and 12 seconds. During that time he will navigate teenage life, narrowly avoid death in the form of a falling jet engine, follow Frank’s maladjusted instructions and try to maintain the space-time continuum.
The 15th anniversary restoration of Richard Kelly’s unique masterpiece comes courtesy of those heroes at Arrow Films, and follows the film’s inaugural blu-ray outing. The restored theatrical cut of the film will have an exclusive run at the BFI from December 16th, followed by a nationwide release beginning December 23. The Director’s Cut, which has also been newly remastered, will also be available for screenings.
Time to put on that stupid man suit.
Words: Kevan Farrow (@KevanX)