Rachel Paige
October 02, 2015 3:23 pm

When you think of Donnie Darko, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s a super young Jake Gyllenhall and the song “Mad World.” Oh, also that bunny, Frank. Since its release back in 2001, the movie has slowly grown a huge cult following, so it was only a matter of time some fan came up with a theory about the movie. Granted, there have been tons of theories about the meaning behind the haunting film, but here’s one we hadn’t heard before.

Forget about everything else that Donnie Darko is about, including the ending of the world and mental illness, and listen to what Reddit user EnigmaEcstacy has to say about its true theme. After a recent viewing, they noticed that at the very beginning of the film, Donnie drives by a sign advertising the town’s Halloween carnival, and it’s sponsored by M.A.D.D. — Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Now fast forward and think about the end of the movie and spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen it before, but that giant bunny, Frank, kills Donnie’s girlfriend, Gretchen, in what we can assume is a drunk driving accident. Gretchen was also an only child, and her and her mother had recently moved away from her abusive husband/step-dad.

As EnigmaEcstacy writes, the movie is not about parallel universes and the end of the world and crashed airline jet engines, but, “at its core about the consequences of drunk driving.”

“At the climax of the film Frank, who we can assume was drinking and driving (though never explicitly expressed), runs over Gretchen as he is driving recklessly and loses control when avoiding Grandma Death [the writer Roberta Sparrow],” EnigmaEcstacy writes. “Look back at the sign and the events combined, it was Hallows Eve, it was Halloween carnival, it involved drunk driving, and it involved the death of the teenager whose only family was her mother.”

Whoa. There’s so much happening in Donnie Darko — literally, SO MUCH — it takes a few viewings to even comprehend the entire storyline. But while we’ve been busy trying to process its time travel, different universes, and how Donnie can stop it, all along, was the movie really about the dangers of drunk driving?

This puts a whole new spin on the movie, but still keeps the same theme with: this whole thing could have been avoided. Because don’t drink and drive, the new theme of Donnie Darko.

(Image via 20th Century Fox)

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