I recently checked out ‘John Dies at the End’ a flick which I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time now via VOD the other night for a whopping $9.99 viewing price. I’ve read the non stop hype on this one for a while now and I’ve been pumped for it, especially as it’s coming from Don Coscarelli, one of my all time favorite horror directors. Don’s most well known for his Phantasm films and more recently Bubba Ho-tep which has become a full on modern day cult classic. ‘John’ had all the ingredients of another horror hit, we even get Paul Giamatti in a spporting role along with a wild and crazy story that plays something like Bill and Ted’s meets The Matrix meets Evil Dead. I was hoping deep down inside this’d play like a companion peice to Phantasm II, my favorite of his films. So my question is why did I find myself a bored while watching it? Maybe I didn’t “get it”? Was it too quirky? I’m not entirely sure what about this movie didn’t work for me. It’s based on a book by David Wong, and the premise of it surely sounds like a winner. Check it and this truly “more awesome than the movie itself” poster:
A new killer drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit has been circulating the party scene. 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.
Now this certainly sounds like my kind of movie and it’s clear this was going to be a challenge to translate to film on a small budget. The acting was decent and Giamatti is always a pleasure to have on screen. However for me the two lead characters weren’t quite interesting enough and the movie just kinda rode this straight line with really nothing that leap out entirely at me to get my blood really pumping. The plot seemed a bit disjointed, confusing and the pacing seemed a bit off to me as well. The movie is basically our hero Dave is dicussing the unbelievable events that have transpired to a reporter (Giamatti) at a diner. His buddy John uses this new drug “soy sauce”, which is given to him by the most generic “jamaican guy” you’re likely to see onscreen and suddenly their worlds are turned upside down as they enter into a confusing quirky quest into other dimensions. For for me to really describe how the plot thickens would probably require me to be typing about this movie far, far longer than I’d like to be. But that’s not to say the movie doesn’t have some fun and unique moments within.
The special effects in this movie were well done for the most part, some decent but not incredible practical monster effects were employed. The scene with the freezer meat monster was probably my favorite use of them and is bound to be a memorable movie monster. The CG effects were a bit on the sub par side but passable and the action was kept at a slower moving pace than what I was hoping for. The movie has been described as “hilarious” but I’d say it was chuckle worthy at best. In the end I wish I had more to say about this one, at best for me upon first viewing it was a mediocre movie experience which left me less than a little less than satisfied. The more I think about it though I think it might be a movie that deserves a second viewing upon which I’m hoping the second time around I get it…..