codyjensen’s review published on Letterboxd:
The different universes, the primary and the tangent, often seem to be the most talked about aspect of Donnie Darko. So, I’ll leave this here to explain it rather than try to explain it in my own words.
What I’d rather discuss is how Donnie, the chosen living receiver, is paralleled as resembling God. First, Donnie is the chosen person to link the two universes and fix what’s been done. In biblical terms, these two universes could resemble heaven and the world, whereas Donnie is Jesus, chosen by Frank (God) and tasked with bringing salvation to the world.
There are so many instances where the characters question God, Christianity, conservatism, and the establishment. For example, when Donnie’s sister debates her liberal views with her parents, Donnie disagreeing with Patrick Swayze and the woman teacher indoctrinating students to think in black and white (Fear or Love) which is similar to the teachings of the Bible, and even the theater is playing Evil Dead and The Last Temptation of Christ.
When discussing God and Physics with one of his teachers, Donnie states, “If God controls time then all time is pre-decided.” Donnie doesn’t like this idea and follows Frank’s commands to destroy the school (a Christian based establishment) and Patrick Swayze’s home, which reveals a child porn basement. Donnie is revealing the truth behind these Christian ideals to show that not everything is black and white, not everything is fear and love, and unveiling the establishment for what it really is.
Lastly, Donnie succeeds in fixing the primary and tangent universes, and ultimately has to die, similar to how Jesus died for the people of the world, to save everyone he loves from death.
OR, he could’ve been hallucinating all of the tangent universe and just was killed normally in the primary universe lol but I prefer the above explanation.