Question: Have you ever watched an entire film and then wondered, "Perhaps I should have taken some sort of hallucinogenic in order to better understand it?" I am not advocating taking any sort of illegal narcotic, but I sat through John Dies At The End, and I am perplexed at what I just watched. And to be honest I have no idea if I liked it or not.
The story is a bizarre one, and I didn't quite know what was going on until about two-thirds of the way through. I did not watch the preview prior, didn't read a stitch about the film or the book. This year (2013) I am attempting to see more films, watch ones that others recommend and view the ones my readers have asked me to take a look at. John Dies At The End opens January 25th, 2013 in theatre but is available on VOD now which is how I saw the film - in the privacy of my home.
Now, what can I say about the film? It reminded me of Naked Lunch and possibly The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai - although it's been 20+ years since I have seen either of those films, or maybe watching John Dies At The End screwed around with my head. So, don't hold me to those comparisons. This film is just so bizarre, and when I think of bizarre, sci-fi/fantasy movies and the feelings they evoke, those two films pop in my head.
I would catorgorize John Dies At The End a sci-fi film but it is listed as a fantasy, comedy, horror. It is comedy but I wouldn't really call it a horror. It's creepy, yes. There are strange creatures that infest people; and there were a few moments where I had to cover my eyes but it was more about the grotesqueness of what was on screen not that it was scary. To me, this was a buddy story where drugs were consumed and the valley between real, not real or where other worlds consist only if you are one of the chosen (when you see the film, you'll know what I mean) is very hazy - especially for the viewer.
One of the main reasons that I watched this film was for Paul Giamatti. He is one of our finest actors that is not in enough films, in my opinion. I also found out that he was one of the executive producers of this particular flick. The director may sound familiar to you: Don Coscarelli. He also wrote the screenplay which was adapted from David Wong's novel (John Dies at the End). And for those you who
don't recognize Coscarelli, let me list a few of his others films: Phantasm (and all the sequels), The Beastmaster (and its sequels), The Rules of Attraction and Bubba Ho-Tep. Yes, these are all cult-classics for the most part and can see why he was chosen to direct John Dies At The End.
So, quick synopsis - a couple of college drop-out are introduced to a drug called Soy Sauce and they are chosen to pretty much protect our world from other strange ones that no one knows about or can see unless on the drug. However, the drug isn't a normal one and only allows some to have the power. We are along for the trippy ride with these unlikely heroes. No more details. This is one you just have to check out for yourself to learn about the odd storyline.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I really don't know if I liked it or not. So I am going to give it an average score. This will either become another cult-classic that many adore or will quickly fade into obscurity. And I may change my mind, either way, but for now this was just a so-so story for me, but I have a good feeling many will really like John Dies At The End.
Review: 5 out of 10