Review: John Dies at the End / Cert: 15 / Director: Don Coscarelli / Screenplay: Don Coscarelli / Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti / Release Date: March 22nd
Going into John Dies at the End, if you’ve read the book by David Wong (who writes for Cracked.com) then you know what you‘re in for. If not, you’re in for a bizarre treat, and don’t worry – the title won’t spoil your enjoyment.
The film centres around the very un-dynamic duo of David (Williamson) and the eponymous John (Mayes) who are a paranormal elimination team – think the Winchester brothers from Supernatural. They find themselves mixed up with a drug called Soy Sauce which, once ingested, allows the user to see and experience things that they should just not be able to. This in turn leads to our protagonists lurching from one misadventure to another. They have to fight an adversary that is made up entirely of meat from a chest freezer; consider whether an axe that has had both its head and shaft replaced is still the same axe that beheaded a man; travel to another dimension to defeat an otherworldly being and try to stay alive long enough to save the world.
David serves as a narrator of sorts, relaying his story to a reporter, Arnie Blondstone (Giamatti), in a restaurant. The incredulous interviewer finds it understandably difficult to stomach David’s tall tales, but he humours him nonetheless. John takes the drug and appears to die, but comes back from the dead to assist David with his investigations into a strange Jamaican man and his struggles with the police who are trying to stop him from finding out the truth. Which it transpires, is that Korrok, a demon from another dimension, wants to know how to cross inter-dimensional planes. Via what appear to be small fly like parasites, bodies are being taken over in our world so that Korrok can become more knowledgeable.
Luckily they're not in this alone. They have the occasional assistance of Marconi, a stage performer. Also on hand – pardon the pun – is one-handed Amy, who is able to open doors to other dimensions in abandoned shopping malls with her other, ghostly hand. Oh, and let's not forget Molly, a dog who turns up at the right moments to help when all looks lost.
It all wobbles nicely on the edge of absurdity without quite tipping over, and there are enough moments of lucid humour to make it worth your time. The leads have their eyebrows arched so highly throughout that you fear they might stay like that if the wind ever changed. Everything on show here is totally crazy (as you would expect from Coscarelli, who brought us the Phantasm series as well as Bubba Ho-Tep), but then again it's amazing that anyone would manage to squeeze an even slightly coherent movie out of the source material. There is a decent supporting cast with the usual dependable performances from the likes of Doug Jones and Clancy Brown. The only thing that lets the film down is the fact that large chunks of the book have been missed out entirely, but that’s down to running time and budget. If you wanted to try and sum this up in a neat little package, we have two words for you: cult classic.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10