To say the least, Donnie Darko is a strange movie. It’s a story about the end of the planet, time travel, and becoming a depressed teenager, part horror/thriller, part coming-of-age. The film features breakthrough performances by Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal and is perhaps best known for the famous Frank and Gary Jules sombre piano cover of the “Mad World” of Tears for Fears. Over time, Donnie Darko has become a favourite for science fiction, horror, or weird movie fans in general.
After being inspired by James Cameron, Richard Kelly, author and producer of the 2001 cult-classic Donnie Darko, says he’s been working on a script for a proper sequel. Donnie Darko followed up with S. in 2009. Darko, a spinoff tale that followed Donnie’s sister without Kelly’s artistic input. S. Darko has been critically panned and dismissed by fans of the original in general, but it sounds like a proper sequel to Kelly could happen in the future.
“I started explaining it all to him and he pointed at me and said, ‘You should keep working on that.’ It made me think there was really something big, something epic that could be done. So that’s what I’ve been focusing on.”
Kelly’s plans for “something big, something epic” suggest a much larger budget expected than the $4.5 million of the original film, but that would ideally not be too much of an obstacle given Hollywood’s current sequel fixations and Donnie Darko’s continued popularity. And while a blessing from James Cameron doesn’t guarantee results, it sure seems like a positive sign. Over the past two decades, Donnie Darko has been enormously influential in the horror/thriller space, inspiring many such films that have gone on to great success. After all that time, seeing what a Richard Kelly-led Donnie Darko sequel would look like would be interesting.
That would be extremely exciting news for fans of the original film. Donnie Darko’s ending may make it impossible for a direct sequel, but there is plenty of time travel lore and doomsday messaging packed into the original film to create at least a satisfactory spiritual successor. The film’s own intricate plot structure suggests that almost anything, including a return from Jake Gyllenhaal as the eponymous Donnie, may be narratively plausible.