Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Netflix Reviews: John Dies at the End

Based on the book by Jason Pargin (under the pseudonym David Wong), John Dies at the End tells the story of two down on their luck college drop-outs named John and David. After purposefully and accidentally partaking in a strange, new drug known as "soy sauce" that promises to send the two on a trip that transcends time and space, John and David find themselves dealing with a dimensional invasion that threatens the entire world.

John Dies at the End, for one reason or another, reminds me of John Carpenter's awesomely bizarre Big Trouble in Little China. Both films manage to blend bizarre visuals and story twists, well-written humor, and chaotic awesomeness together into a strange, little mixture that some audiences will love and others will hate or find confusing. Luckily, I happen to fall into the former group.

John Dies at the End is a perfect example of why Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep, Phantasm) has such a cult following. Coscarelli is incredibly deft at taking the bizarre, the horrific, and the comedic and mixing them together into a single entity that is both well-crafted and entertaining. While the genre-bending construct that is John Dies at the End might not appeal everyone, those who just sit back and let the weirdness wash over them and draw them in will most likely find something to love and enjoy.

The acting is equally superb. Both Chase Williamson (David) and Rob Mayes (John) play their parts perfectly, feeling just like normal guys who have been dropped into a situation way over their heads and adapting to it as best as they can. Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti are as good as always and manage to make both of their characters memorable despite only having a few scenes in the movie.

The only major flaw in my opinion is that some of the CGI effects are rather cheesy and bad, especially in comparison to the well-done practical effects. However, I wonder if the shoddiness of the CGI is due to the film's low budget or a conscious decision on Coscarelli's part to add to the cheesiness of the film.

John Dies at the End is an incredibly enjoyable, bizarre film that will please audiences that found films like Big Trouble in Little China and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension enjoyable. However, the bizarre and chaotic nature of the film could possibly be a deal-breaker with some. If you like a good dose of weirdness and dark comedy with your horror, I suggest giving John Dies at the End a chance. 

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