A Donnie Darko Sequel is Potentially in the Works

By  · Published on January 29th, 2017

Richard Kelly reveals a desire to return to the universe of his 2001 cult classic.

Richard Kelly has not had the most consistent career. He has written and directed three films, all of which feature prominent Hollywood stars – Jake Gyllenhaal, Mandy Moore, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Justin Timberlake, to name a few – but only one of his projects has had any kind of lasting impact. That project is, of course, Donnie Darko, 2001’s mysterious sci-fi/thriller with the man in a bunny suit and a young Jake Gyllenhaal. The film has become well-known as a beloved cult classic in the years since its release. In fact, Arrow Video just put out a new 2-disc Blu-ray set, including a 4K restoration of the film plus lots of special features.

Yesterday, Bloody Disgusting reported that Mr. Kelly is interested in re-visiting the world of Donnie Darko, and potentially making a follow-up film. Kelly made a statement to HMV while promoting the Arrow release, while also emphasizing how pleased he is with the restoration, especially as it has taken place at the time of his film’s 15th anniversary. On the possibility of a sequel, Kelly stated:

“I think there’s something much bigger and more ambitious to do in that universe. It’s big and expensive and I think there’s time to get to that. I want to make sure we’ve got the budget to do it justice and not to compromise anything. Another story in this world needs resources and we need to have that in place. I need to get my next film out of the gate and then we can go back and look at it”

It sounds as though Kelly’s biggest worry in his career is obtaining the extensive resources needed for directing a film, especially eccentric science fiction films. His other two features, Southland Tales (2006) and The Box (2009) received mixed to negative reviews upon their respective releases, which made it even more difficult to secure resources for his future projects. All three of Kelly’s films feature elements of science fiction and psychological thrillers, and they all have dark, ominous atmospheres. He is a talented writer and director who certainly deserves to have his work realized, even if critics have not been thrilled with his films in the past.

Donnie Darko could potentially lend itself very well to a sequel. Of course, there technically was a sequel called S. Darko, released in 2009, which tells the story of Donnie’s little sister, Samatha. Daveigh Chase reprised her role from the original, but Richard Kelly had no involvement in the project, and publicly stated that he never even read the script. It received negative reactions from critics and audiences, and went on to be all but forgotten.

The original film is mysterious, with many open-ended questions and situations, and an official sequel could answer some of these questions, while introducing new ones. The charm of Donnie Darko is that it makes sense without making any sense at all, much like David Lynch’s works. Since linear time and space are flexible in Donnie Darko, anything that happened in the original film may not have actually happened, and a sequel could address other paths that Donnie and his family’s lives could have taken. Original stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Seth Rogen have all had very successful careers, and have developed their acting talents over the past 15 years. It would be really interesting to see them reprise and expand their roles from the original film.

Hopefully there is more news on this potential sequel sometime soon, and hopefully Richard Kelly is able to finish the next feature film he has been working on. In the meantime, if you haven’t seen it, definitely give Donnie Darko a watch, especially now that it is available in a 4K restoration – both the theatrical and director’s cuts.

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Actual film school graduate from Toronto. Always thinking and writing about queerness, feminism, camp, melodrama, and popular culture.