The Kansan - Newton, KS
by Garon Cockrell
Title as Spoiler Alert: A Review of John Dies at the End.
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Jan. 8, 2013 11:15 a.m.

By Adam Ruhl

John Dies at the End

is one of the most offbeat and entertaining movies I've seen in a long time. Part

Repo Man (not Repo Men, careful distinction), part Phantasm, and part David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch; it is rich with crazed imagery and clever dialogue. The

humor feels very much in the style of the Hitchhikers

, from an opening with the Theseus' paradox applied to ax murder, to an

alien speculating whether or not Bees know their job is to make honey for

people. Based on the novel by David Wong (Senior Editor at Cracked.com and pseudonym

for Jason Pargin), John Dies at the End

is a hectic, carnival ride of a film that blends the comedy/horror/sci-fi

genres beautifully. <>

The plot concerns two friends, David Wong and John (the soon

to be deceased) and opens with David meeting with a reporter to relay his

story. After a party two years prior, Dave and John stumbled upon a new drug

known as ‘Soy Sauce’. The many side effects of this drug include hallucinations,

the ability to speak to the dead, and a tendency to get unstuck in time and

space, among others. The story quickly spirals into the absurd, but in a very deliberate

way with scenes shifting rapidly, much like Don Coscarelli's Phantasm films. It’s easy to get lost, but the fun is in watching Dave and John

go down the rabbit hole and attempt to deal with aliens, demons, poltergeists,

police, and other trans-dimensional beings. <>

David is played by newcomer Chase Williamson, who really nails

Dave’s wide-eyed, haunted portrayal of a man twisted on a new drug and crashing

through the supernatural. During a recent Q&A, director Don Coscarelli said that this film was Chase’s first

major gig out of drama school and he handles it well, even in the scenes he

plays against veteran actors Paul Giamatti and Doug Jones (Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth,  he often plays heavily costumed characters). There

is also an awesome cameo by Angus Scrimm (the Tall Man from Phantasm) as a

priest who delivers some very dark news. Seeing Angus here made me long for

another Phantasm movie (no reboots please).<>

If there is a weak spot to the film it’s that some of the

CGI effects that look unfinished. This is especially clear when Dave is

attacked by a flying mustache (that’s not a typo) and when a ‘soy sauce’ fly

lands on Dave’s face. In no way do Dave and the fly appear to share the same

space and when the fly lands it becomes distractingly clear that it is a computer

dot, not a real living bug. <>

During the director's Q&A, Don also spoke about the

release plan. John Dies at the End

has been available on Video-on-Demand since December 27th of last year. It is

going to have a phased theatrical release starting on January 25th,

2013. Theater listing found here. In his opinion, VOD did not have the same

stigma attached to it that applied to direct-to-DVD releases. VOD allows a film

with a limited theatrical release to reach a much wider audience. As the VOD

costs about 10 dollars on Amazon Instant, about the same as a theater ticket, I

would recommend seeing it on the big screen if you have the opportunity. This

is one film that is best experienced with an audience; especially when the doorknob

transforms (you’ll see what I mean). <>

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