Donnie Darko is a 2001 cult psychological thriller film written and directed by Richard Kelly, and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, and Mary McDonnell. The film depicts the reality-bending venture of the eponymous character as he seeks the meaning and significance of his troubling end-of-the-world visions.
The film was initially slated for a direct-to-video release before being picked up by Newmarket Films. Budgeted with $4.5 million, and filmed over the course of 28 days, the movie missed breaking even, grossing just over $4.1 million worldwide. The film has since received favorable reviews from critics and developed a large cult following, resulting in the director's cut receiving a two-disc, special edition release in 2004.
Donnie Darko (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) is a troubled teenager in suburban Middlesex, Virginia in October 1988. He appears to be suffering the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. At the start of the film, he has recently stopped taking his medication. His parents, Rose and Eddie (Mary McDonnell and Holmes Osborne) and his sisters, Elizabeth and Samantha (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Daveigh Chase), are concerned about him. One night at dinner, Donnie and his sister get into a profane argument during which Elizabeth reveals she knows Donnie is no longer taking his medication. Donnie's sister also reveals that she will vote for former Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis. Rose confronts Donnie in his bedroom asking him where her little boy has gone and who is the stranger that has taken his place. As she leaves the room, she hears him call her a "bitch" from the other side of the door. Feeling guilty, Donnie resumes taking his medication. On October 2, however, he sleepwalks and meets Frank (James Duval), a man in a menacing bunny costume. Frank tells him that in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, the world will end. While he is outside, a jet engine mysteriously crashes through the roof of the Darkos' house, destroying Donnie's bedroom.