Donnie Darko is the epitome of a cult classic film. A relatively low budget independent Sci-Fi thriller was released just after 9/11/2001 with an incredible cast including Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Jena Malone, Patrick Swayze, and even a young Seth Rogan. A terrifying giant rabbit named Frank, multiple trippy end of the world dream sequences, and a slew of hidden messages pushed the film to rare psychological heights and appears on many All-Time greatest movie lists. The soundtrack was also released independently after a Director’s Cut was put out on DVD. You’ve got a mesmerizing slice of vintage 80s Alternative Rock classics that set the mood for Donnie Darko’s most memorable and often tragic scenes. The song that garnered the most attention was Gary Jules’ emotional performance of the Tears For Fears single, “Mad World”. Today the stripped down moody take on “Mad World” been remade multiple times (including a Halsey Taco Bell commercial) but the original still holds up remarkably well. Jules’ version and Tears For Fears “Head Over Heels” created the bookend for the movie soundtrack.
“MAD WORLD” Gary Jules (Donnie Darko Video Remix)
“HEAD OVER HEELS” Tears For Fears
In addition to “Mad World”, the Donnie Darko Soundtrack also featured songs by INXS (“Never Tear Us Apart”) and Echo And The Bunnymen (“The Killing Moon”) which appeared in the opening scenes of the original and the Director’s Cut. Australian one-hit wonder, The Church saw their moody atmospheric masterpiece, “Under The Milky Way” added to a scene with Donnie and his father sitting in the car. Original Alt-Rockers, Joy Division (“Love Will Tear Us Apart”), Oingo Boingo (“Stay”), and Duran Duran (“Notorious”) completed the trip down memory lane for the soundtrack.
“THE KILLING MOON” Echo And The Bunnymen
“UNDER THE MILKY WAY” The Church
“LOVE WILL TEAR US APART” Joy Division (Donnie Darko Video)
The soundtrack for Donnie Darko was ultimately released a 2 CD compilation with one featuring the songs from the 80s and the other disc containing the film’s score by Michael Andrews. Like the film, Michael had a low budget to create the soundtrack and did much of the orchestration himself. It’s a remarkable and original score that beautifully set the tone of the film.