Donnie Darko | 2001
“28 days, six hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds...” and the world will end, according to Frank the giant rabbit (James Duval), a disturbing cousin of James Stewart’s cuddly Harvey. Richard Kelly’s debut feature is the stuff of cults. Bigtime.
And like a David Lynch film, to which it’s often compared, it needs to be seen over and over, though there’s a touch more logic than in Lynch's nightmare universe. The film is set in 1988 in ‘Middlesex, Virginia’, but was filmed entirely around Los Angeles.
‘Middlesex High School’, the school attended by Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is Loyola High School, Venice Boulevard just east of Normandie Avenue, midtown.
Fans of splurgy horror might have recognised this as the 'University of Zurich Institute of Medicine', at which Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) has a spot of bother with his professor in the prologue to Stuart Gordon's 1985 Re-Animator – loosely inspired by the HP Lovecraft story. It was also 'St Francis High School' in 2005's Coach Carter, with Samuel L Jackson, and Cory's 'Middle School' in TV series Boy Meets World.
It’s at the Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street, Santa Monica, that Frank the Rabbit appears during a screening of The Evil Dead, to instruct Darko to burn down the mansion of oleaginous sleazebag Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze).
The art deco cinema, opened in 1939, was where the young Robert Redford watched movies and was almost taken over by his Sundance organisation. It’s been restored by the American Cinematheque – and is also seen in Barry Sonnenfeld's Get Shorty.
Cunningham’s mock-Tudor mansion is 4252 Country Club Drive down in Long Beach, south Los Angeles. You might recognise the grand house as the home of ‘popular jock’ Jake Wyler (Chris Evans) in Not Another Teen Movie.
Donnie Darko’s house itself, where a jet engine mysteriously crashes into his life, is nearby at 4225 Country Club Drive.