Review this movie
Mar 21, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. As it begins, John Dies At The End is a faithful adaptation of David Wong (Jason Pargin)'s incredible novel. The depiction of the trippy opening riddle, the house investigation sequence, and pretty much every other horrific and hilarious event for a long while onward is superb; the source material is one of my favorite books of all time, and I found myself giggling along as reality itself seemed to lose its mind on the screen. I was even okay with most of the expected changes, like the meat monster appearing in Shelly's basement and Dave meeting Robert North (Roger in the film) as he drives John home rather than much further on. There were... darker spots, but I'll get to them later.
Lead actor Chase Williamson can get slightly mumbly and underacts in a few scenes, but he does a fine job of capturing David's character and it's a treat to see him in the many bizarre situations the film puts him in. Rob Mayes as the titular John, however, was a bit of a letdown; he's likable, but he loses much of the delightful sociopathy that the novel's John constantly sprayed in everyone's face. Fabianne Therese's portrayal of Amy Sullivan is the worst of the bunch, turning one of the most lovable and unique characters in the book into an annoying, forgettable stock love interest. The remainder of the actors are, however, perfectly cast and hew closely to their literary renditions.
Even though the film contains a lot of brilliance early on, it regrettably fizzles out by the climax. The plot tries to compress three full arcs into one and a half hours, so I knew coming in that there would have to be omissions, but some of the cuts and modifications are just terrible. Amy being at the party in place of Jennifer erases much of her misunderstood mystique, and it's implied that she is already Dave's girlfriend, completely wiping away any kind of character development for her. The shootout in Las Vegas that concluded the book's first arc is replaced with **** taking Dave, John, Amy, and Fred Chu directly to the third arc's ghost door; this leads to the complete absence of the shadow people, and this in turn prevents arch-villain Korrok from receiving absolutely any buildup, making his reveal astoundingly unremarkable. It also has a domino effect on the depiction of **** Narnia (Korrok's home realm), essentially destroying the true explanations for where the creatures came from, what Korrok's motivations were, and why the dog was so important.
However, these would all be forgivable if the film didn't completely gut the best part of the novel: it omits the intriguing subplot of the body in David's toolshed. Thus, it hits the delete key on the revelation that led to a poignant, heart-wrenching eleventh hour and tied the entire book with all of its seemingly random mysteries together, including the answer to the aforementioned opening riddle (which goes unanswered here, and is essentially meaningless). Instead, the film simply selects the dog as the savior of mankind, gives Dave and John a happy ending, and eschews the potential to be more than an absurdist impression of the novel.
Ultimately, John Dies At The End is mostly a great time up to the point where it introduces ****, at which point nearly everything falls apart. Had the film been perhaps an hour longer, many of its flaws would undoubtedly have been nonexistent.… Expand
Mar 20, 2014You may or may not be familiar with the work of Jason Pargin already. If you've ever visited Cracked.com, then you may know him by his pseudonym, David Wong. Here, Pargin adapts his own book, written by his alter ego, of the same name, starring his pseudonym self.
Confused? Well get used to it, because this is about as normal and mundane as it gets. Aided and abetted by director Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep), Pargin (or Wong, please yourself) has created a world that defies categorisation. Labelled with various degrees of futility as another Naked Lunch, Hithc-Hikers Guide or Bill & Ted, John Dies At The End is a cult indie just waiting to be recognised. Starring Chase Williamson (David) and Rob Mayes (John), this complete and total **** of a story is difficult to pigeon-hole, tricky to second-guess and nigh on impossible to forsee (unless you have read the book, of course)
Labelled thusly by Imdb "A new street drug that sends its users across time and dimensions has one drawback: some people return as no longer human. Can two college dropouts save humankind from this silent, otherworldly invasion?" JDATE is all of these things and plenty more besides. This laughable synopsis barely scratches the surface of this bizarre tale of two friends that innocently do the wrong kind of drug one night at a party and all hell breaks loose. Whether this is in their own heads or not, or how much of it may be nothing more than overactive imagination, well, that's a decision you need to make for yourself. I wouldn't try, however, as just like mother nature, just when you've think you've got a handle on it, it throws something at you like a duck-billed platypus, just to **** up your initially well-thought out explanation of mammals.
And to be honest, I was more oblivious to the existence of this story and its magically tragic characters than the director himself, who only became aware of its existence by happy accident. It was made known to him as a recommendation from Amazon, after buying a completely different book. Taken by the natty title, Coscarelli decided to give Wong's adventure a whirl and what you see here is his (and Jason's/David's) adaptation.
I was even slower, only catching the second book 'This Book Is Full Of Spiders' in the saga as a recommendation on Audible. If nothing else, it proves that Both Coscarelli and I are nothing if not open-minded and appreciate the benefits technology can offer. Essentially, without our computers, I would have missed a great story and cinema would be one very odd film short of complete.
Regularly gory and occasionally amusing, seeing these characters on screen is like getting a hug from an old friend that you haven't seen for some time, but can't honestly say you've missed all that much. Yes, it's nice to see them and the casting is creepily accurate, but this is such a strange and bizarre world, that just like the aformentioned Naked Lunch, you're not sorry to be out of it when you're done.
It doesn't have anything like the same creeping dread and slithery tension provided by Cronenberg, however, concentrating its running time with comedy more than horror. The Shaun Of The Dead approach of being surprised by something so otherworldly and just how someone completely unprepared to deal with it copes with being put in this situation is where the story hangs its hat. The second book continues this approach with most of the characters of not make re-appearances, as well as that legendary soy sauce.
Ultimately, this film is bonkers. In that respect, it is frightfully honourable to the original text, with only a few things changed to make a very strange book slip comfortably from page to screen. The casting, as mentioned, is brilliant. Sometimes, you might get lucky and find that the casting director has matched up maybe one character that you have forseen yourself whilst reading the initially faceless pages. Here, we are treated to at least three characters that you can name without so much as hearing them speak.
A good translation from one medium to another, but it really does benefit from having a copy of the book recently soaked up, as otherwise you may find yourself bombarded by things that just do not make sense. When you begin to understand that this is just another part of the beauty of the story itself, you can relax, knowing that, perhaps, you shouldn't try and take it too seriously. A survival horror game, reduced to feature-length proportions for a greedy audience. It's not a classic and the script is, much like its source, simple, alarmist and base. Still, bloody good fun, nonetheless.… Expand
Jan 3, 2014This is the second time I was tricked and cheated. When I saw the movie 'John Tucker Must Die' I was in the same state as now where they deceived me by telling John will die but he never was gonna. So you know now that John is not going to die. The title from both the movies are metaphorical, that's all. Okay, now we gonna talk about this movie. I must say this B movie impressed me a lot. Who are all these people, I really don't know anyone other than super cool Paul Giamatti. His addition to the story boosted the movie. In fact his role was a similar one to Rafe Spall in 'Life of Pi' and Christian Slater in 'Interview with the Vampire'.
A character called Dave recalls his recent unexpected adventures with his best friend John to a reporter. So as he begins to unfold the story it frequently flip in and out between two dimensions. Like, the invention of evil creatures so the Dave must perform a series quests that comes across behalf of the human race.
Remarkably the movie was shaped with two unknown actors. For that we must hail the director, he did what should have been done. Most of the filmmakers could have been tumbled and collapsed but this director managed to bring the best of it. If you ever wondered to give it a try to B movie then its the perfect time and perfect product. So put your faith in it and go for it.… Expand
Dec 19, 2013This is a weird, wonderful film which will be either loved or hated. It you like things such as Shaun of the Dead, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, or Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, you will love this one. Filled with comedy, bizarre supernatural occurrences, and miscellaneous mischief, this film is very enjoyable.
Sep 18, 2013John Dies At The End is a quirky, funny and drug filled movie. The film revolves around a new drug, called Soy Sauce, which alters the way people interact with the world. The film does well at introducing you to the strange behaviors and possibilities allowed by this concept. First and foremost, this movie is not for those who dislike violence, nudity, and/or profanity. This movie takes advantage of all three in ways that while clever could be off-putting to some. The movie keeps a nice pace throughout, never boring the viewer, but does include a number of strange events that will put some viewers off by the strange and somewhat childish humor. For those who can look past what some would call vulgar humor, the movie is a well paced, funny film focused on friendship and the universe (odd pairing, I know--it'll all explain itself throughout the film). With that said, I was very disappointed at the ending, which dragged past the clear solution, and left me a bit confused. If the film had ended just a tad earlier, I would have been much more satisfied with the movie.
In regards to the film's technical aspects the video is very well done. It is clear and well saturated with fantastic detail in the blacks and the shadows throughout the film. For a movie which takes advantage of both the heavily dark and heavily bright scenes, this is important as both provide seemingly endless amounts of texture whether in creatures, settings, or the characters themselves. At times though I found the CGI to be a bit over the top and it didn't always mesh well with the world they had created. This can be overlooked due to the tongue-in-cheek nature of the film.
The audio was presented nicely in Dolby Digital 5.1 featuring a strong LFE (subwoofer) track, that extends nicely throughout the scenes creating a sense of realism to the many odd noises heard. It incorporates a wide dynamic range from simple dialogue, to loud explosions and soft whispers. Nonetheless, I never was blown out of my chair, and was able to keep the volume at the same level without any discomfort.
Parents, in no way is this movie appropriate for children. Featuring topless women, male genetalia, a lot of violence, extensive profanity and the occasional racial slur, as well as drug use, this film puts it outside the realm of what I would comfortably recommend for any child under 15-17 years old.
As a whole though, the film was a fun romp that never takes itself too seriously. While the premise of the film is far fetched, the secondary characters are often a bit dull, the film as a whole is fun, fast-paced, and enjoyable. I would recommend this to anyone in need of a good laugh who can look past the sometimes juvenile humor.… Expand
Apr 12, 2013I went into this move with high hopes. I love quirky. I like horror comedy. I like non-standard narration. I like Paul Giamatti. The problem was that this never added up to anything. It was a series of gaping plot holes strung together for no apparent reason.
It did make me chuckle occasionally, but more in the I-can't-believe-something-so-absurd-is-happening way than something actually being funny.
Again, I have not read the books. I can only assume that this series of events had some sort of internal logic in them.… Expand
Apr 2, 2013I would describe this film as an entertaining ride of weirdness and oddball humor. It was made on a shoestring budget evident by the cheesy VFX and rather fake blood and gore stuff, but it adds to the charm (as it did for Evil Dead). Don't expect it to be as brilliant or profound as say Donnie Darko but be open to it and give it a fair chance and you'll get a fun 100 min experience!
Mar 25, 2013This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. A cautionary tale of the real secret of the universe, the title is not really a spoiler but more of a "side effect" of the film's supernatural narcotic called Soy Sauce, giving us a glimpse into a weird, exciting, and horrifying Earth where all that stands against ultimate destruction is David Wong and his friend John.… Expand
Mar 12, 2013Cross "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" with "Men in Black" and you have a rough idea of what to expect. Two slackers stumble upon a "sauce" that confers paranormal powers, but also invades the body with alien parasites. There's plenty of left field humor (although not often funny) and some moderately cool special EFX. The story starts out with a fun feel, but ends up confusing and dumb. Writer/director Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep, Phantasm) loves the off-kilter, but isn't sufficiently imaginative to make his movies anything other than good-natured cult ramblings.… Expand
Mar 10, 2013I might be really biased, I actually read and really liked the the book, but the first half of the movie was enjoyable. On the other hand, towards the end it just took a wrong turn. Felt like they rush the end. The cheap effects at the end didn't help either.
Feb 3, 2013I'm not sure if this is the best movie of 2012 that I've seen, but it's by far the most creative. Whether or not you like it, between the stunning visuals, strange supernatural themes, philosophical undertones and multi-layered storyline, it's definitely a movie you won't forget any time soon, and one you won't regret seeing. While I do admit the plot could've used some further explanation, one could argue that the ambiguity adds some kind of mystique to the situations presented here. I thought it was very enjoyable all-around, and in my opinion the great acting, great visuals, creative thought-provoking plot and unorthodox execution make John Dies at the End a must-see movie of 2012. (Even if the wide release was technically in 2013...)… Expand
Jan 27, 2013I personally enjoyed the movie, being a person who's never read the book. It's more intelligent than it makes itself out to be, it gets you thinking a bit, there are some enjoyable twists, and overall it's a cool movie. I would recommend it to a friend.
Jan 25, 2013A quirky and unusual comedy/horror it's not anything special except it's really different. It should hit cult icon status. Oh BTW I never read the books. I did hear there were issues between the movie leaving a lot out. If your in the mood for something different and a comedy then this is for you. The spiders bit cracked me up.