Even though the main explanation is consistent and ties the whole movie together there are still a few parts of the movie that are not explained and have to rely on theory. Here are some of those questions with possible explanations and some common mistakes people make.
What Creates The Tangent Universe
Why exactly does a Tangent Universe (TU) occur? Are they a natural phenomenon or are they artificially created. There is one theory that scientists in the future build a machine that somehow causes a rip in time back in the past. Another theory is it could have been caused by Alien involvement.
Quite a common thought is Frank saving Donnie in the beginning is the cause of the TU. Donnie was meant to die and by surviving he altered things which caused the corruption. This is not true though, we are already within the TU when Frank wakes Donnie up. Frank's special powers only work within the TU so he would only be able to wake Donnie after the TU had started.
The same goes for the Artifact not being the cause of the corruption. The jet engine appears several minutes after the TU had started. The Philosophy of Time Travel states that the Artifact is the first sign of evidence that a TU has occurred.
The First Jet Engine
One major question is where does the jet engine in the beginning of the movie come from originally? If it came from the future where exactly and what day did it come from?
A common answer to this question is it's the same engine Donnie sends through the portal from the plane his mother and sister were on. The engine travels through time and lands on Donnie's house. It's exactly the same event as the end of the film only the first time round Donnie survives.
This is extremely unlikely though as the portals are just a gateway between the two Universes. The first engine lands in the Tangent Universe (TU) so if it came through a portal it would have to come from the Primary Universe (PU). The engine Donnie rips of the plane at the end is from the TU and travels through a portal into the PU so there is no way it can be the same event repeating.
If it did come from a future point in the PU once the corruption is fixed by Donnie that future event won't happen now so we will never find out exactly how it occurred.
Another theory is the Tangent Universe is a copy of the Primary Universe but as it's being formed there is a glitch or copying error. This error produces a duplicate engine that is then dumped into Donnie's bedroom. This anomaly makes the TU even more unstable and it must be sent into the PU.
Roberta Sparrow: The Philosophy Of Time Travel
Roberta Sparrow writes the book "The Philosophy Of Time Travel" which helps guide Donnie but how exactly did she know all this information? There are a few plausible explanations for this. It seems like she had a similar experience herself so either she was a Living Receiver or one of the Manipulated Dead in a previous Tangent Universe.
Both options would in theory give her all the information required. If she was a Living Receiver she would obviously have known what to do and the Manipulated Dead have a large understanding of what is happening within a Tangent Universe. It's possible she may have somehow retained some of the information from her experience once the Primary Universe started up again.
Does Donnie Have To Die
This subject is one of the most debated parts of the movie. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking Donnie waking up and cheating death in the beginning is what caused the Tangent Universe (TU) to occur. The assumption is then once the Primary Universe is restored Donnie stays in bed otherwise he risks causing another TU to start and the whole cycle will repeat. This theory is not correct though, Donnie and Frank have nothing to do with the creation of the TU.
We hear about other Living Receivers in The Philosophy of Time Travel who were killed by the Artifact they returned. If we include Donnie then it seems the Living Receiver always dies once the Primary Universe is restored. The question is what would happen if Donnie got out of bed again and survived? The moment we see Donnie laughing in bed at the end the Primary Universe is already restored. If Donnie got out of bed and dodged the second engine after that then in theory nothing would change as the corruption is already fixed.
Another important point is whether Donnie chooses to die. The Donnie we see in bed at the end is not the same Donnie from the last 28 days. How much knowledge he has of what happened in the TU is very questionable and it’s quite unlikely he knows he is about to die.
The question of destiny plays quite a big part here, Donnie was meant to die but Frank saved him. It’s possible he was chosen as the Living Receiver because his life is now expendable; he is going to die anyway. Once back in the real world it's Donnie's destiny to die.
i cant remember exactly where but if i remember correctly it was mentioned somewhere that when someone is about to die, it is possible for a TU to be created. So because he was about to be killed by the engine, a TU was created and he was saved by frank.
@charles from england
i never thought of a time loop in this movie but it sounds very interesting. It seems that there are a few things that lead you to believe it. I also wondered about the chinese girl who liked donnie.
Something else about the engine, the one from the start of the TU could still be the one that donnie brought down from the plane his mom and sister were on. The people who were interested in it would be because it would mostlikely be from a plane they knew was not in the air, or was in a different area and the plane would have its engine but this one with the same numbers appears out of nowhere.
It would be really easy to tell the public who know about the engine that the numbers were burned off and they didnt know where it was from.
So why, if she were also a manipulated dead, did gretchen not appear to donnie also like frank did?
Guess that was my 2 cents.
Nudes for everyone! Great movie though.
ok ok i get it. what about a nude of ur teacher?
shut up about the suit already! and no i wont send u a nude of gretchin!
this bunny suit itches!
Did the rabbit's eye shined or am I becoming insane?
i dont get it . if donny had telekinesis or super strength ,why didnt he simply saved his gf from dying ?i mean he could have just out powered the guy who was about to slit his throat
@Brandon in the end you see everyone waking up or remembering some parts of the tangent universe.
I don't get if he fixes the corruption the jet engine would still travel through time and hit his house that imo makes no sense at all.
I always wonder about the fact at the very end, When Gretchen waves at Donnie's mum. She says she doesn't know her so why would you wave - especially just after her son's just died! So I think that it is infact a time loop and that Donnie didn't need to die. I also think that because of this loop Gretchen still has vague memories of Donnie and his family, kind of like Deja-Vu. Probably a very far fetched theory but the wave has to mean something.
I can honestly say I don't fully understand this movie, I don't think anyone does, I'm not even sure if this movie is a hundred percent logical/makes complete sense.
However I have picked up on many things that others simply haven't, for example:
a) regarding the dream, many of you think something like this: "he see's an ocean filled with futuristic buildings with odd architecture" watch closely at this point 24:26, there's no futuristic buildings, its the school hallway, you can see classrooms on the right and lockers on the left, it's Franks way of telling Donnie to flood the school.
b) the fat man in the orange tracksuit, no one makes any comments about him, he's seen throughout the film at 52:04 and 1:22:53, I don't know how much relevance this character contains but nevertheless, there's something mysterious about him.
c) this one doesn't seem worth getting worked up about to me, but the chubby chinese girl, where does she come into the more in-depth side of things? I mean she's there during many of the crucial points in the film, check out 1:39:31, 1:13:42 and 1:11:18, she has an entire book on Donnie, and Donnie seems to have a soft spot for her. I know it seems small but is there something more to her story?
I also partially believe that maybe within the tangent universe there is a time loop, starting on the second of October and ending on the thirtieth, Donnie is stuck within this loop and the only way to get out is by fixing the corruption and safely destroying the tangent universe, my evidence for this theory come in from a few different scenes:
a) at the very start of the film (just over a minute in to be precise) on the second of October, Donnie wakes up in the hills (very similar scenery to where he ends up with Gretchen in the car on the thirtieth near the end of the film) alone, with his bike while wearing his pyjamas he stands up and he starts laughing. To me this insinuates that Donnie has understood that he failed to break the loop and destroy the TU and that he is now going to relive the entire loop, maybe he's happy because he knows that he'll get to recollect his love with Gretchen.
b) 53:34 Donnie is stabbing Franks eye with a knife, without having seen Frank without a mask on at this point, this suggest that maybe Donnie already knew that Frank obtained an eye injury later on in the film.
c) at 57:40 when Jim Cunningham is giving a seminar Donnie stands up and insults him by saying 'I think you're the fucking anti-christ' which may suggest that Donnie already knew that he was involved with acts of paedophilia.
d) the whole conversation between Frank and Donnie in the cinema at 1:04:24 onwards also suggests that there is a time loop, Donnie asks Frank numerous questions such as 'why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?', 'why do they call you frank?', those two questions weren't particularly easy to relate to the idea of there being a loop but then he asks: 'frank, when is this going to stop?' and Frank replies 'you should already know that' and Donnie laughs, to me this is the biggest evidence that there is in fact a time loop, it completely suggests that Donnie is aware of when things need to be done, and yes you could say that Frank told him earlier on in the film that the world was going to end in twenty eight days etc. but I think its trying to be ironic here, of course Donnie knows that he has twenty eight days to do everything but what he may really be asking is: when is the loop going to stop? when will I be free from this repetition? when will this tangent universe be securely destroyed?
I find this film fascinating, underrated and widely misunderstood. Many more should be made like it and I salute all who are intelligent enough to have a fairly accurate perception of what this movie is getting at!
And admittedly it isn't the most easy story to comprehend...
Charles from England