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John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End (2012) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  99m  •    •  Directed by: Don Coscarelli.  •  Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones, Daniel Roebuck, Fabianne Therese, Jonny Weston, Jimmy Wong, Tai Bennett, Allison Weissman, Ethan Erickson.  •  Music by: Brian Tyler.
        It's a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce, and users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can't.

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Review:

Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
Image from: John Dies at the End (2012)
John Dies at the End is the long-awaited latest film from Don Coscarelli; the man behind the likes of the Phantasm series and the excellent Bubba Ho-Tep. Since 2002¿¿¿¿¿¿¿œs Bubba Ho-Tep, Coscarelli has mainly kept a low profile, with his only work of note coming on the Masters of Horror TV series. As ever with Coscarelli, John Dies at the End is a little out there, to say the least. Focussing on a new drug called 'Soy Sauce', the film incorporates monsters, time travel, death, a penis for a door handle and much, much more. The film stars newcomer Chase Williamson as the lead, Dave, Rob Mayes as the titular John and Paul Giamatti as a writer by the name of Arnie, with appearances by Glynn Turman, Clancy Brown, Tai Bennett, Daniel Roebuck, Jimmy Wong, Fabianne Therese, Jonny Weston, Doug Jones and Angus Scrimm (Phantasm represent, yo!).

The film opens with a bizarre, yet fantastic, tongue-in-cheek prelude; Dave ruins an axe decapitating a man, repairs the axe but damages it squashing a large bug, repairs it again and is then visited by a back-from-the-dead version of the decapitated man. Consider the tone well and truly set. From here we're told Dave's story in flashback mode, as he meets up with Giamatti's writer in a Chinese restaurant in order to share his tale with the world. This is where the film really takes off. We're shown how Dave ended up coming across 'Soy Sauce' in the first place, it's side-effects and the journey it takes him on. It turns out that the drug usually kills most who take it, yet for others, most notably Dave and John, it gives them the ability to see into the future and to fight ancient paranormal evil, amongst other things.

All of the cast here deliver the perfect performances when needed. Giamatti is a given for a good performance; that's come to be expected from him over the years. The real standouts are Dave and John, Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes, respectively. They are both great in their roles, especially for such relative newcomers. The titular John is the slower of the two, the more easy going and simple character who is the first to discover 'Soy Sauce'. Williamson's Dave is the slightly more clued up, yet more timid, of the pair, although his character develops as the film progresses. Both are perfectly cast in their roles. The supporting cast is equally perfect, with Glynn Turman's cop and Jonny Weston's wonderfully named 'Shitload' great to watch. The direction is jumpy, but jumpy in a good way. The film has lots of fast cuts and it skips from scene to scene to scene before you can fully keep track of what is going on. It's a film that you have to persevere with in that sense. The direction and the way the film is shot work perfectly in respect of giving the jittery feeling of the drug that the film focuses on. The viewer finds themselves floating along, uncomfortably at times, with the main characters as they bounce from one strange going on to the other.

John Dies at the End is hard to describe or to pigeonhole to a genre. Whilst vague and hard to follow, there is a strong narrative in there; it may just be a tad tricky to follow at times. Whilst you have to pay attention with this film, the viewer is ultimately rewarded for doing so. The film has moments that are reminiscent of Bill & Ted and Todd & The Book of Pure Evil in it's slightly dopey best-friends-against-evil vein, yet mixes elements of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and Monty Python in it's slightly trippy appearance. Then there's the general overtone of a fantastical Twilight Zone episode. Sprinkle into this some excellent practical SFX work that the 1980s would be proud of, then you have yourself a cult classic in the making. Those expecting amazing, modern special effects will be disappointed, but anybody that is familiar with this type of film should lap up the slightly cliché, slightly kitsch effects work on show.

Based on the book of the same name by David Wong, John Dies at the End is as unique as they come. There's monsters made out of various meat products, there's quick, intelligent one liners, there's killer slugs, there's bestiality, there's subtle geek references, there's a drug that looks like the 'Venom' symbiote from the Spider-Man universe, there's propane fueled paintball guns, there's zombies, there's listening to a hot dog, there's outfits borrowed from Eyes Wide Shut and seemingly a million and one other strange inclusions. Mind bending doesn't do the film justice. Others may find John Dies at the End hard to follow or a bit too much at times, but I cannot recommend the film enough. Personally, this is a great first film of 2013 for myself; it's just a shame that it's currently only available on a VOD release at the moment. Here's hoping to a speedy DVDBlu-ray release as this film puts itself up there with another favourite of mine, Bubba Ho-Tep, although this is actually more strange.

I give John Dies at the End a strong 8 out of 10 rating, although I almost feel I'm being a little too harsh with my rating there. I'd like to give the film a higher score, but I'm feeling my bias is maybe clouding my judgement. People will either love it or hate, but I can't say enough good things about this film.


Review by culturedleftpeg from United Kingdom from the Internet Movie Database.

 

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