Some filmmakers are able to cultivate long-running careers that practically demand inevitable icon status, whereas others manage to make just a film or two that make enough cultural impact to keep them relevant long afterward.
Richard Kelly is the latter. The director has made two other feature films since his directorial debut Donnie Darko in 2001, but that eerie and mysterious sci-fi thriller – which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a teen haunted by apocalyptic visions – still remains his career highlight to date.
So it makes perfect sense Kelly reportedly is looking to expand the mythology he established in his first feature. Although he didn’t divulge any plot details, Kelly told HMV.com recently he hopes for the opportunity to revisit the world of Donnie Darko.
“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.”
Considering that many fans are still trying to decipher the true meaning of Donnie Darko itself, it’s anyone’s guess what shape a sequel might take. Judging by Kelly’s words, it sounds like a higher budget would be required, indicating the time travel aspect of the Donnie Darko universe might be better defined in a proposed sequel.
If there’s one thing we can probably count on, it’s that Kelly’s follow-up would likely ignore the existence of S. Darko, the ill-received 2009 direct-to-video sequel that saw Daveigh Chase reprise her role as Donnie’s younger sister. Despite serving as a sequel to his film, Kelly had no involvement in that production.
Even 16 years later, Donnie Darko remains a cult classic and has kept fans fascinated by its complex narrative and gripping imagery.
Kelly’s career has yet to live up to the promise of that original film, with neither Southland Tales or The Box generating much positive response.
Returning to the world of Donnie Darko could be an effective way for Kelly to recharge his future as a filmmaker, and the mythology set up by the film is certainly ripe for more exploration, provided Kelly can find the right approach.
Robert Yaniz Jr.
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