John Dies at the End

Product Details3 Stars
John Dies at the End is a horror-comedy from director Don Coscarelli of Bubba Ho-Tep fame based on the book by David Wong.  A friend of mine had read the book and really liked it. When the movie was announced he was equally excited, and now that it is available on DVD, I decided to give it a watch, without having read the book.  Usually I like to read the book before I watch a screen adaptation.  I’ve read the first Game of Thrones book, but haven’t seen the show yet as I have at least three books to go.  I read all the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books before viewing their films, and most recently the Life of Pi.  Books and movies are funny things.  If you have read the book I suppose you are in one of two camps; you will either be anxious to see the adaptation and the pages brought to life or you will not want to see someone else’s version of what you’ve already constructed in your own mind.  Conversely, if you haven’t read the book the film will act in the same way; it may make you want to read the book to gain more detail, or it may put you off the book completely.  After viewing John Dies at the End, I’m not sure if I’m interested in reading the book or not.

The movie was okay, but wasn’t great.  It definitely reeked of “budget film”, and I have no real problem with that; my concerns come from the pacing and the layout of the story.  It all seemed a little disjointed.  There was an interesting scene at the beginning of the film regarding an axe.  Dave (played by Chase Williamson); who is the titular John’s (played by Rob Mayes) best friend, kills a zombie with an axe and cuts off the head.  Doing so, the axe handle needs to be replaced.  After killing something else with the new axe handle, the axe head now needs to be replaced.  Dave asks us if this is the same axe that killed the first creature, and so does the resurrected corpse.  This scene was quite interesting, but didn’t seem to affect anything else or pop up again in the movie.  It actually reminded me of the introductory scene from Rubber.  The movie then follows Dave telling a story to a reporter (Paul Giamatti) about how he and John came in contact with a drug called Soy Sauce, that bridges the gaps between realities, universes and time itself for the user.  Now tasked with fighting off evil creatures from the drug’s home dimension, Dave and John gruesomely carry on, even though John dies, and not exactly at the end.  But before all this happens, we see John and Dave team up with a stage magician/exorcist/infomercial psychic named Dr. Marconi (Clancy Brown, now famed for his cartoon voiceover work, but I prefer to remember him as the Kurgan from Highlander) to stop possessed meat from killing them.  Again, the film seemed a little disjointed, the flow was off.

The whole film seemed kind of rushed.  As I said I am not familiar with the source material, so I am assuming that a lot of things got left out, but what remained really did seem to bounce around a lot.  That may have been the problem actually, the film may have tried to do too much and just ran out of steam.  We opened with the axe scene, jump to a scene apparently in the present, back to the past telling the “origin” story, back to the present with everything seemingly resolved.  There was so much detail and cleverness in the writing of the buildup that wasn’t really there for the ending.  I know I gave the film 3 stars, but 2.75/5 would be more accurate, unfortunately I don’t have a graphic for that, so 3/5 it is.  Will John Dies at the End become a cult classic?  That is hard to say.  It had a strong cast, and quite good acting; effects that were slightly on the shy side of average; an original enough story with some rather abstract ideas mixed with some minor horror and gore; and I suppose it has a built in fan base from the book.  These are all the ingredients, so I suppose the only way to tell is to see how the fans and other audiences react.

Posted on 13-04-01, in 3 Star, Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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