I was a big fan of Donnie Darko. When I heard that a sequel was planned, to be written and directed different people than the first one, I was hoping it would never got made. But it did, thus I couldn’t resist watching it. But I had set my expectations really low. I was sure that a sequel cannot be as good as the first one for several reasons. For one the fun in the first movie was in its complex logic oand the fact that the viewers had to decipher it from eloquent hints. Once the puzzles are solved it is impossible to recreate the state of mind before you knew the secrets. Second the actors and the directors were really first class, so the chance that a crew with less experience can pull together a similarly stylish and high value production is slim. Not impossible of course, but I cannot recall a single example in the history of sequels when a different crew did a better version than the original.
Having said the above disclaimers I ended up beingdisappointed in S. Darko in a different way. It was better than I thought it would be. I was expecting utter rubbish and it was enjoyable in a twisted way. The story was very simple. Seven years after the plot of the first movie Donnie’s younger sister Samantha, played by the same actor–Daveigh Chase–in both films is a wild teenager who ran away from home. SPOILERS ON But she is not as wild as her friend who eventually ends up dying in an accident. Through the trick of time travel Samantha saves her life by going back and sacrificing herself. SPOILERS OFF. There are a host of other characters, but the line between sinisters and do-goodies is much more clearcut than you would hope for a movie that works because ambiguity is embedded in its every facet.
The director was showing so much teenage girl flesh that it felt creepy. As the movie was partially designed for those men who liked Britney Spear’s or T.a.t.u’s original sexy, schoolgirl image. On the other hand the camerawork was reminiscent enough for the first one: the tracking shots all over were nicely done. The lighting was not too exciting though. Every scene was either shot in the blasting sunlight or in almost total darkness. The indoor scenes became unnecessary unrealistic and sharp under these circumstances. The music was adequate, as it was a mixture of 80’s slow-goth (Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins) and more recent efforts (Chemical Brothers, Whale…). It had catchy tunes, but not as catchy as the hit-after-hit soundtrack of Donnie’s. I suspect it had financial reasons. This was a decidedly low budget movie. For that it was good. But if you’ve seen th real thing you will want to avoid this.