I like to think that I have my fingers on the pulse of the disturbed teen market, but this one was a total surprise to me. I was shopping at Hot Topic a few weeks ago and I was scanning the CD’s and movies that they had for sale. I had already picked out the belly button ring that I wanted, but I was just kind of browsing. They had Office Space (saw it, I guess it was ok) and The Lost Boys (of course). Then I noticed the title to a movie I didn’t recognize, Donnie Darko. I filed the name under, Hot Topic, and went to look at the vinyl underwear and bustier sets.
A few days later, I was shopping on Amazon. Actually, I wasn’t shopping, I was looking to see when my Bosu Ball was going to be delivered to my house and just kept looking at Amazon when I was done. Under my DVD Recommendations, the movie Donnie Darko came up. Based on what I had bought and how I rated other movies, Amazon thought that I might like it.
I thought that I should give this movie a try, so I looked at the Salt Lake County Library system and put it on hold for myself. There was no waiting for it, so I figured it must not be that big of a phenomenon. I got the movie last week, but I didn’t get a chance to see it until last Wednesday. Still sick from the monster cold that Mike gave me, I sat on the couch and prepared to be scared silly by a man-sized rabbit named Frank.
I expected B-Movie and considering their budget (only 4.5 million dollars), it should have been. Instead, I realized that I was watching a classic. It’s one of those movies like Harold and Maude or The Rocky Horror Picture Show that define the outcast teens of an era. The beastly way these teens treat each other is typical and very reminiscent of life in teenage hell. The man-sized rabbit is just a creepy benefit.
Mike asked me what the movie is about and I told him that I couldn’t tell him very much or I would ruin it. It’s the same thing that others have told me about The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s the same thing that I’ve said about Fight Club. If you talk too much about it, the whole movie is buggered, but it’s frustrating as hell when you’re trying to decide whether to see it or not. He asked me how I would classify it. I said that it doesn’t look like it, but it really is science fiction. IMDB has a different attitude. They classify it as fantasy, drama, sci-fi, mystery and thriller. With that many genres, it’s hard to go wrong. By the way, IMDB has a totally inappropriate spoiler in one of its plot outlines, so read with care.
Donnie Darko is not a cheap shot. There are no “boo” moments where the music screeches at you and you jump out of your seat. This movie is filled with tension and dread, but there is no gore or cheap shots. Donnie is a disturbed teenager who is seeing a therapist for his past behavior. He relates to her that he saw a six-foot bunny named Frank who told him that the end of the world is coming in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. Because of this hallucination, Donnie is spared a sure death when a jet engine plummets from the sky into his room. Sensitive Donnie can perceive that there is something awry with the world since the accident and does his best to uncover the errors, whether they are a sadistic school mate, a devout gym teacher or a self-important self-help guru. All his efforts to uncover the inconsistencies end up getting him deeper and deeper into trouble and more vivid hallucinations until the final moment when he finally understands why the world is going to end.
After watching Donnie Darko, I knew that I needed to own it. Check it out for yourself. Now you have Hot Topic, Amazon AND me recommending it to you. What can you lose?