Nightmares and paranoia or time travel and tangent universes?

From worms holes in time to giant evil rabbits, filmmaker RICHARD KELLY’s Donnie Darko is that rarest thing: a true cult movie. Words: Nigel Floyd

eteran filmmaker Francis Ford (‘oppola was an

early. enthusiastic supporter of writer-director

Richard Kelly’s stunning feature debut. Donnie Darko. But it was ex-child star turned actress/producer Drew Barrymore who finally proved to be the time- travel fable's godparent. Her production company. Flower Films. championed the project. and she agreed to play the key role of liberal teacher Ms Pomeroy.

Once we had Drew. the marquee value of her name provided us with a level of comfort and security] says Kelly. ‘lt was very brave of her to be the first to dive in. while everyone else was just dipping their toe in the water. Her involvement validated me as a first-time writer-director. She also gave me my most valuable piece of advice. which was: “Don‘t change anything. stay true to your original vision.”

The term ‘cult movie' is used very sloppily these days. but Donnie Darko truly deserves that moniker. Breathtakingly original. its unique personal vision has taken time to generate a small but fanatical following. First screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2001. it received a brief theatrical release in America. garnering glowing reviews but failing to connect with the multiplex audience. Now. nearly two years later. Kelly hopes his satirical. category-defying sci-fi/horror/teen-angst movie will strike a chord with UK audiences.

‘When we were shooting Donnie Darko] Kelly explains. ‘we somehow knew that it was a film which was going to have a long life. it was clear that we were making something that was very intricate. and which had a great deal of detail. depth and meaning to it. So we had a feeling that it would be a film that people would take a long time to come to terms with. But as

24 THE LIST 1/ fit Oct Vii/z

‘The rawness of this movie is going to emotionally overwhelm you. So it’s really a case of where your head is at’

the film has opened in different countries around the world. the audience reaction has been surprisingly universal.‘

()ne intriguing aspect of audience reactions to Donnie Darko is that while some viewers respond to it on a purely emotional level. others tune into its more cerebral underpinning as the surreal logic behind the time-travel enigma gradually becomes clearer. At first it seems as if the somnambulant [)onnie‘s apocalyptic hallucinations might be scary nightmares or symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. ()n the other hand. all the cryptic talk about time travel. worm holes and tangent universes suggests it also operates on a more intellectual level.

‘I think that when you’re experiencing a movie like this for the first time.‘ says Kelly. ‘the rawness of that experience is going to emotionally overwhelm you. So it's really a case of where your head is at. For me. it’s

just as valid for someone to say that what happens to

Donnie is just this very emotional dream. as it is for someone else to say that it’s all about multiple time dimensions all that Stephen

'li'me kind of stuff.‘

()ne of Kelly’s earliest cinematic influences was Robert Zemeckis' Bur-k tn the Future trilogy. which also addressed the whole question of time travel. albeit in a lighter vein. ‘Zemeckis‘ Back to Future was a big influence on my childhood.‘ says Kelly. ‘It helped me to see that a successful time-travel film requires an incredibly intricately-woven narrative. ()n the other hand. Terry Gilliam‘s Tire/re Monkeys comes from a much darker emotional place and is far more ambitious in its scope. My aim with Donnie Darko. as well as dealing with Donnie‘s troubled transition from boyhood to manhood. was to try to get to a more metaphysical plane. while using the conventions and archetypes of the teen movie.‘

()ne thing. however. is certain: Donnie Darko is far from your average time-travel movie.

GFT, Glasgow; Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 25 Oct. See review, page 27.

Hawking Brief History of

Rough cuts

Lights out, let the scares commence

ALL HALLOW'S EVE HAS come creeping arOund once again. so what better plan of action than watch some horror movies? You cow/(1n 't (to a lot via/Orse than make the unimaginative choice of multiplex horror Halloween: Resurrection. n which f'TO makers of that tireo' film franchise attempt to spice things up by rioping off The Blair Witch Project. Better off taking an arthouse trip for some guality scares. The Glasgow Film Theatre iS still running the highly effective My Little Eye and the latest Asian horror flick. The Eye. Over in Edinburgh, the Cameo runs a late Halloween double. Night of the Living Dead {the original) and The lr‘I/i'cker Man (see it again before Neil LaBute abuses this CIaSSIC With an Arrercan remakei. The Filmhouse comes up top trumps. however. with a week- Iong programme of terror. the

‘Ah, the children of the night. Vot music they make’

highlights of which include a director's cut of The Shining Sunday 13 NO‘."ClllD(3l'l, which features an extra 25 minutes of Jack Nicholson gomg balmy. and a pit-meal: of Dark ‘fl/ater. the new Japanese chiller by the man responsible for the Ring trilogy. Those films play as part of a full day of horrcr film screenings on Thursday 31 October. Finally. and by far the most exciting prospect. is a new print of Tod Browning's notorious. long-banned ano qwte brilliant 1932 film, Freaks. That's double-billed Friday 25—Sunday 27 October with another rarely seen Browning film. The DeVIl-DO/l. And bonus! the Filvnhouse is also SCreehing Browning's The Unknown. one of a number of frankly bizarre Silent films the director made Willl star Lon Chaney. as well his def;nitive version o‘ Dracula Wlllt Bela

l ugosi. Be afraid. be blah blah blah etc.