S. Darko (2009)

Donnie Darko was a cult classic that exploded out of nowhere in 2001, stunning critics and audience members alike – bold, clever, sexy and immensely enjoyable. No surprises then that a sequel has finally arrived, and no surprises either that it lacks the exciting punch the original whacked us with. Sadly, however, it barely even lifts its hand to signal a potential smack… it just hides in a corner and cries itself to sleep.

Our protagonist is played by Daveigh Chase, the original Samantha Darko, whose eight years between Donnie and S. are mentioned in a self-important written preamble noting how she left home living a dreamless existence and has ended up, as we find out, doing basically nothing. She is traveling across the dusty small towns of America with her slut-bag friend Corey (Briana Evigan), an inexplicable friend of the prudish Samantha.

The girl’s roadtrip is going well until their car breaks down. As they stand on the roadside, Corey wonders what they’re waiting for. “Anything,” says Samantha. “That’s your plan?” Corey retorts. After a further thirty minutes of patchy forced-kookiness (“I don’t think you’re a gay”), this conversation echoes one the audience would be having with S. Darko’s screenwriter and director if they got a chance. It is an unwanted struggle to stay focused on the plot – both Samantha and Corey are stranded when rebellious Randy turns up looking like Corey Feldman circ. The Burbs and takes them to small town boredom-ville where missing kids, meteorites, church-burnings and generic frat-parties occur.

In the town of Conejo Springs they meet a collection of local folk including potential child-killer Iraq Jack, a UFO loving motel clerk, a stock policeman, a religious zealot, a geeky weirdo and a creepy clergyman. These caricatures are well acted enough, but the film’s themes, ideas and the motivations of the characters are so similar to Donnie Darko’s that it seems entirely needless for them to exist. There’s even a character like Swayze’s weeping peadophile, and the shock of this reveal is utterly diluted because of the original.

Feeling like the same evolution of storyline Final Destination suffered, the now-doomed Darko franchise doesn’t just focus on one haunted-by-the-future-dead character this time, but a few, creating a significantly warped and infinitely confusing storyline, where anyone who dies can be saved… but at what consequence? Sadly, no one cares enough to ask.

Whereas Donnie’s passage was one of beautiful loneliness and haunting realization, Samantha’s feels convoluted and unconvincing. S. Darko is a tragically unoriginal piece with little charm or invention. Watch the original and ignore this. It adds nothing, it takes nothing, it simply exists.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

2 Comments on “S. Darko”

  1. Jamie Carruthers says:

    I am going to watch this tonight.

    Nobody can doubt my commitment to Sparkle Motion.

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