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By Dustin Rowles | Film | May 5, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | May 5, 2009 |

I’m at a complete and total loss. I can’t review this film properly because I can’t make any goddamn sense of it. It’d be like trying to translate “King of the Hill’s” Boomhaur after he’s settled in to geriatric dementia. It’s just a garbled mess, a lump of half-assed scattershot ideas strung together to create a semblance of movie-like substance. Granted, Donnia Darko required the use of parts of my brain I’d never really utilized to piece together its messy logic, but S. Darko has forever removed the possibility of using those parts again. They’ve disintegrated. It’s a cinematic curbing, and I’ve got teeth oozing out of gray matter on a public sidewalk. Please don’t step on my cratered head.

The events of S. Darko take place seven years after Donnie was killed by an airplane engine. Donnie’s little sister, Samantha (“Big Love’s” Daveigh Chase) is a teenager now, who has drifted away from her family and decided to travel to California with her friend, Corey (Brianna Evigan, Step Up 2) to pursue a career in actressin’ (they might should’ve sought lessons before appearing in this film). Their car breaks down on the way, stranding them in a small Utah town with a series of wackjob locals, each with a paper-thin personality. Their lives become intertwined when a meteor falls and nearly kills a batshit conspiracy theorist, Iraq Jack (James Lafferty) triggering the Darko framing device: There are 17 days until the end of the world (and by “end of the world,” I mean: One person dies).

What happens between the time the meteor falls and the expiration of those 17 days, I can’t really say. Not because I’m afraid to spoiler it (you should be so lucky), but because I really can’t say. There’s a missing kid, who shows up in Samantha’s dreams. Samantha turns evil at night in her own hallucinations. That weird time funnel travels around aimlessly. Elizabeth Berkley plays a Jesus freak, who has only the most tenuous connection with the nonsensical events that unfold. Samantha at one point is killed in a car accident, but then Corey travels back in time and allows herself to die in Samantha’s place. A geeky kid gets a rash from the meteor and goes mad. The town bad boy stands around and looks bad. John Hawkes (“Deadwood”) plays a motel owner who … owns a motel. Mathew Davis plays a pastor who at one point touches Samantha’s knee in an unpleasant kind of way while trying to convert her to Jesus freakdom. And Iraq Jack builds that Darko bunny head out of parts of a windmill that were destroyed by the meteor, and he wears it sometimes for no reason at all.

Like I said: Nothing makes any goddamn sense. It’s like tuning into last week’s “Lost” episode without having ever seen another episode before, only it’s less skillfully done and there’s no actual mythology here. Just a few ideas — the bunny head, the time funnel, and the end of the world countdown — from the original movie thrown into a some Stone soup and shot out of a potato gun. Director Chris Fisher (Nightstalker) probably went completely insane after he read Nathan Atkins’ script, which might partially explain the end product. My guess is that he just told the actors to stand in front of the camera and say whatever was on their mind, and when they balked, he’d reply, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll just put in a time funnel in post-production. Those things are awesome. They completely negate the need for logic or coherence.” I’m not even sure that editor Kent Beyda even had a script to work from — I think he just took the footage and pieced it together using some sort of Mad Libs formula.

Donnie Darko may have been a completely accidental success (and Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales suggest as much). But it was a cool little mindfuck of a movie. S. Darko is a poor imitation, a lazy drunken mindfuck that just lays there and blows on its nails while you hump its leg with a flaccid penis and wait for a release that will never come.