Today’s feature is yet another in a long tradition of unnecessary and reviled sequels: 2009’s “S. Darko.”
The director of “S. Darko” was Chris Fisher, who has primarily done work on television shows like “Warehouse 13” and “Person of Interest” as a producer and director.
The writer for “S. Darko” was Nathan Atkins, who has worked as an assistant editor on shows like “Masters of Horror” and “24,” but has also written a handful of TV movies like “Abominable Snowman.”
The cinematographer on “S. Darko” was Marvin V. Rush, who is a veteran director of photography on television shows such as “Hell on Wheels,” “Star Trek: Enterprise,” “Star Trek: Voyager,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
The editor and co-producer for “S. Darko” was Kent Beyda, who also cut films such as “Jonah Hex,” “Jingle All The Way,” “Fright Night,” “Humanoids of the Deep,” and “Gremlins 2.”
The producers on “S. Darko” included Sundip Shah (“Double Dragon,” “Sudden Death”), Jim Busfield (“Bad Ass,” “Bad Ass 2”), Ash Shah (“Frankenfish,” “Space Chimps 2”), and one of the producers of “Donnie Darko” in Adam Fields.
The music for “S. Darko” was composed by Ed Harcourt, who has also scored the documentary “For No Good Reason” and the 2007 film “New York City Serenade,” but it best known as a mildly popular British indie musician.
The cast of “S. Darko” is headlined by Daveigh Chase, one of the few returning elements from “Donnie Darko.” The rest of the cast includes Ed Westwick (“Gossip Girl”), Briana Evigan (“Step Up 2: The Streets,” “Sorority Row”), James Lafferty (“Oculus,” “One Tree Hill”), John Hawkes (“Congo”), and Jackson Rathbone (“Twilight,” “The Last Airbender”).
Richard Kelly, the writer and director of “Donnie Darko,” dismissed the creation of “S. Darko” before it was ever even released, saying:
“To set the record straight, here’s a few facts I’d like to share with you all—I haven’t read this script. I have absolutely no involvement with this production, nor will I ever be involved.”
The creation of “S. Darko” was apparently made possible due to the dissolution of Newmarket films, which produced the original “Donnie Darko.” This apparently left the rights up for grabs, which the company Silver Nitrate jumped on to create “S. Darko.”
“S. Darko” wound up getting an abysmal reception from critics and audiences alike, earning Rotten Tomatoes scores of 0% (critics) and 18% (audience). The film currently holds a slightly higher IMDb rating of 3.7, which is still very much negative.
“S. Darko” was made on a budget of just under $4 million, and only received a limited theatrical release in Europe, earning a minimal gross. However, the movie apparently wound up at least making back its budget due to DVD and on demand sales.
One of the first things I noticed about “S. Darko” was that the soundtrack is notably weak, which was a key strength of the original from the very first scene. I’m sure this was partially because they didn’t want to spend money to license anything, but the music in “Donnie Darko” was more important than just providing background noise: it helped set the time period and the style, things that “S. Darko” seems totally tone deaf to.
Likewise, I thought that the cinematography and general tone was just off for this film. “S. Darko” lacks the surreal touch of “Donnie Darko,” and wound up looking more like a cheesy ghost story than a trippy time travel mind-bender. Even the writing on the characters and their portrayals failed to build the same level of intrigue as the original film, which managed to create an interesting cast of characters despite not spending much time on any particular person outside of Donnie. “S. Darko,” on the other hand, presents a veritable parade of cardboard cutouts, lacking in any distinct depth or emotion.
“Donnie Darko” has a dedicated cult fan base, as most people know. This sequel was surely made because someone thought that more money could be squeezed out of the dedicated “Donnie Darko” loyalists, which of course backfired on them terribly. The whole feel of the production reminded me of “American Psycho 2,” in that it is only tangentially tied to the original, and desperately tries to imitate the quirks of its predecessor like a child awkwardly fumbling with the new found power of speech. The whole movie feels like a clueless mockingbird imitation of “Donnie Darko,” trying to hit the essential beats that make up the tune. From watching scene to scene, you can practically see the writer’s line of thinking:
“Donnie Darko” had a rabbit mask, so we need a rabbit mask.
“Donnie Darko” has a book about time travel, so we need a book about time travel.
“Donnie Darko” had a car crash, so we need a car crash.
“Donnie Darko” had an arson, so we need an arson.
“Donnie Darko” had CGI chest-worms, so we need chest-worms.
“Donnie Darko” had television portals, so we need television portals.
“Donnie Darko” has an object falling from the sky, so we need an object falling from the sky.
Every little detail feels like a parallel imitation from the previous movie, to the point that this list could just go on forever. I would challenge readers to a drinking game based on these observations, but I don’t want to be held liable for any untimely deaths.
I liked “Donnie Darko” well enough, but the movie does not make any sense, despite what some die-hard fans might claim. Likewise, “S. Darko” doesn’t have a shred of coherence, but it lacks the style and performances that were key to “Donnie Darko” to make up for the layers of nonsense.
“S. Darko” is one of the most boring movies I have ever sat through, and I am including ancient exploitation movies, Coleman Francis flicks, and the dullest of parody films in that count. It is excruciatingly dull and painfully derivative, to the point that you will try to manifest a nonsense form of time travel to erase it from existence. I can’t recommend it as a good-bad watch, because there are just so many better ways to spend just under 2 hours of a day.