How the Celtic Trickster Púca Inspired Frank the Rabbit in ‘Donnie Darko’

Dr. Emily Zarka of the PBS series Monstrum explains the mythology behind Púca, a temperamental trickster of Celtic lore. This shape-shifting goblin carries victims away on a magical horse over which the rider has no control.

Existing somewhere between boogeyman, scapegoat, and temperamental fae, the known trickster called Púca is an animal-spirit that was once dreaded across Ireland, the Channel Islands, and England.

Puca Donnie Darko

The legend of the Púca has lived on through legend, literature, and films, ranging from Shakespeare to Frank the Rabbit in the 2001 cult film Donny Darko.

Puck, the mischievous shape-shifting narrator of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” clearly borrows its name and nature from the Puca tradition. …Fans and some scholars, I’m both, of the 2001 cult classic “Donnie Darko” believe a Puca is at its core, one who leans into the more malevolent mischievousness of the monster.

The Púca is a particularly frightening spirit as one never knows what shape it will take. It could be Blucifer, the blue Mustang at Denver International Airport, or maybe even a beloved pet.

Whatever form the shape-shifting creature takes, it always manages to disrupt the lives of those around it, for better or worse. The very malleability of the Puca’s form helps it endure. Who knows what shape it will take next?

Here’s a compilation of “Frank” scenes from Donnie Darko.

Here’s a great shot of Blucifer by Scott Beale.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.