Craig's Early Review: John Dies at the End

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A dark comedy-horror film written and directed by Don Coscarelli and based on the David Wong novel of the same name. Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Chase Williamson & Rob Mayes portray four of the characters in this fantasy-like story centered around a new street drug they call "Soy Sauce". On top of promising its users an out-of-body experience, those who take it also find themselves drifting across time and dimensions. There's only one problem: some who come back are no longer human. Can two college dropouts save humankind from this silent, otherworldly invasion?
3.5

Movie Review: "John Dies at the End"

“John Dies at the End” has the spirit, if not always the laughs, of Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” trilogy. Don Coscarelli, who has a nearly 30+ year career in working on B-grade horror films like “The Beastmaster” and Bubba Ho-Tep”, has adapted David Wong’s 2004 comic-graphic novel as one messy but still wild, freaky, and mind-boggling little ride.

Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes play Dave and John, two slacker buddies who take a drug named Soy Sauce at a rave and the next day both are being questioned for murder. That’s not their only problem. The drug is a mysterious black substance that screws with perception, allows for mind-reading, makes for all sorts of inconsistencies in time, and opens a door to another dimension. Do you have all that? Good, cause I’m still not sure if I wrote down all of it.

This is the kind of movie that shouldn’t be so much followed (which is almost a near impossibility) as admired for its zaniness and hallucinogenic, ghostly, demonic pleasures. The imagery here is very strange (how bout that monster made of meat, or Dave having to fight not just a cop’s severed arm but also his bat-like mustache), the horror is there (heads and eyeballs splatter) and every once in a while you get a good laugh out of it. The special effects are low-grade but for a B-grade film, that’s not terribly unexpected. The one area where this could have been better is the ending, where all this craziness succumbs to exposition and then an anti-climatic conclusion.

Williamson is the only one in the cast not written one-dimensionally (which sucks for Paul Giammati fans as he plays a reporter here) and he handles being the “straight man” surrounded by lunacy very well. But that lunacy is kind of the real star here and Coscarelli has done an excellent job of keeping that entertaining, almost, throughout.