Nerds Gets Spooky: Why ‘Donnie Darko’ Is Totally a Halloween Movie


There is a lot of weirdness in 2001’s cult classic Donnie Darko that makes it easy to forget that the film is a Halloween movie. After all, the film does count down to Halloween night as it weaves its way through one confusing event after another. It’s not a Halloween movie in the traditional sense that it will scare your pants off. But it is a psychological thriller and contains key elements to horror stories that carry over well.

You have a psychopathic teenager, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a creepy half-dead sentient bunny suit, Frank (James Duval) at the heart of the film. The film also has a creepy old woman who lives in seclusion and suffers the judgement of those around her. It’s totally a Halloween movie.

This movie will confuse you if you’ve never seen it. This movie will confuse you if you watch it for the 10th time. Does Donnie Darko make complete sense? No. Does it need to? Also no. Movies don’t need to make sense to be entertaining or creepy. Donnie Darko makes about as much sense Michael Myers never dying or Jason Vorhees going to space. If audiences can enjoy something as far out as Freddy Krueger murdering kids in their dreams, surely the weirdness of Donnie Darko is easy enough to grasp.

While Donnie Darko may not be full of jump scares and gore, there is at least one scene that will send shivers down your spine. The movie begins to come to a head and Frank, the creepy bunny, tells Donnie that the world will end on Halloween night. In response, Donnie asks the question every fan of the movie will always remember; “Why are you wearing that stupid bunny suit?” What follows that question is a bone chilling foreshadowing to Donnie’s ultimate fate.

Donnie Darko doesn’t want to scare you like most Halloween movies do. This movie wants to make you uncomfortable. This Halloween, you should consider letting it.

Hannah’s a lifelong nerd, but has been with the team since May 2021. Her life is easily classified by two abbreviations - BBG3 and ABG3 (before Baldur’s Gate 3 and after Baldur’s Gate 3). Especially nerdy about: video games, folklore, Star Wars, D&D, Spider-Man, and horror (all of it). Based in Denver, CO.

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