I'm not sure what I'm supposed to come away from Donnie Darko with, I would say that this is a very clever film, or a very clueless one.
( I Think) When it begins everything that follows for the next hundred minutes has happened already. That's one way to look at it. Another way would be to see it as pure surrealism like John Carpenter's In The Mouth of Madness or David Lynch's Mullholland Dr. Such films are conundrums, but the question is whether or not you are capable of watching a movie that leaves you frustrated intentionally. If surrealism is your thing, you will probably have luck with Donnie Darko. It is a good one for a movie goer.
Up until the climax, we are led to believe that this is a film about a young suburban middle- class boy (Donnie) who has schizophrenia and one night envisions a large satanic looking rabbit (the anti-Harvey) to tells him to do some pretty bad things if he wants to survive the end of the world in 28 days, something hours and something seconds.
The people in this film are weird, though not as much so as Mulholland Dr. (In part because the acting here is more toned down, usually) One could argue though that there are too many characters. Some of the screen time that is dedicated to the supporting cast could have gone to Donnies story, which is more important. His conversations with Frank (the rabbit) are intriguing but they are too short and too few.
The climax is one that takes Donnie Darko and turns it inside out. There is no literal resolution to the thriller side of Donnie Darko, only what the viewer chooses to make of it. Is it a great movie? no, but its partial originality and evocative direction are enough to make it worth a watch. 1/2 Star 1-15-2004 (Updated)