Richard Kelly’s follow-up to cult hit Donnie Darko is a sprawling sci-fi satire. It’s also one of the biggest fiascos in cinematic history: the type of purposefully convoluted, self-indulgent mess masquerading as smart that gives auteurism a bad name and makes it harder for genuine artists to get funding.

Attempting to synopsize this film is impossible. It’s worth watching if only because of the staggering magnitude to which it doesn’t work. The cult hit in an instant gratification culture is becoming the kiss of death for filmmakers as they try to manufacture immediate cult status with self-conscious weirdness and an undisciplined, throw-everything-in-and-see-what-sticks approach.

It should be noted that the series of graphic novel prequels shed little light on the film, which summarizes them in a tiresome voice-over that opens the film.

Grade: D

Southland Tales is currently available.