Reviewed by Heather Wixson
Starring Daveigh Chase, Briana Evigan, Ed Westwick, James Lafferty, Elizabeth Berkley, Matthew Davis
Directed by Chris Fisher
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Truth be told, I’ve never been able to completely understand all the intricacies of tangent universes that Richard Kelly introduced to the world in his cult favorite Donnie Darko even though I own the film and have watched it about seven different times. I guess this is probably why I wasn’t as upset as the rest of the Internet community when Chris Fisher’s companion film, S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale, was announced. After all, Kelly set up a very interesting storytelling concept with Donnie; why not continue to explore the complex theories he set into place?
In S. Darko we meet Donnie’s sister Samantha (Chase) seven years after Donnie tragically lost his life. Like Donnie, Sam is also dealing with a lot of issues, and to compensate, she takes off from Virginia on a road trip to California with her headstrong friend Corey (Evigan). Along the way the duo face some car trouble and end up getting stranded in a small town in Utah where they meet the local bad-boy Randy (Westwick), who helps the girls out and gives them a taste of how the townies party it up. While stuck in the middle of nowhere, Sam starts to get her own “end of the world” visions like her big brother.
In the tangent universe that Sam begins to dream about, we meet a darker version of our protagonist who prophesizes about the end of days to a local crazy named Iraq Jack (Lafferty), who takes it upon himself to take the necessary steps to save the world. Staying true to the Darko style of storytelling, we meet a bunch of random people along the way: Jesus freaks (Berkley, Davis), a local meteorite geek, and a gung-ho sheriff just to name a few who end up having their random stories intertwined by the conclusion of the film.
This is the extent of what I can discuss about S. Darko because if I go any further, I will inadvertently give away spoilers or make a fool of myself while trying to discuss the theories behind the space-time continuum because I still have no idea just what it all means or how it even works. What I can say is that if you consider S. Darko as a stand-alone project, not comparing it to its predecessor, the movie is pretty good, even if the story ends up being a bit of a downer towards the end (that’s not a spoiler; it’s a Darko film, what were you expecting?).
Fisher does a decent job of taking the reins and delivers a dark and delicate tragic fairy tale to audiences. My only complaint is that I feel like Fisher might have relied too much on Kelly’s blueprint, and I would have liked to see the up-and-coming director display more of his own unique vision for his film.
Being a young actress, Chase has a lot to carry in her portrayal of Sam, and the ingénue delivers the best performance in the film. Her cool and quiet demeanor plays nicely against some of the stronger characters and is the reason that I was able to be emotionally invested in S. Darko.
Overall, if you are one of the many who view Donnie Darko as a sacred work of art, then this movie probably isn’t going to be for you. But for those who are willing to leave their preconceived notions at the door and simply watch the film for what it’s trying to be – a young girl’s journey to find her strength in a world that lacks sense or meaning – then you should be able to enjoy S. Darko.
Special Features (identical on DVD and Blu-ray)
3 1/2 out of 5
3 out of 5
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