John Dies At the End Review

Movie: John Dies At the End
By: Maniac E
Date: January 3, 2013

Just so you know...they're sorry for anything that's about to happen.

John Dies at the End, which is director Don Coscarelli's (Phantasm/Bubba Ho-tep) take on the wacky, cult novel by David Wong, this over the top nonsense is just the thing someone needs. Featuring huge monsters, metaphysical conversations, pop culture-based humor, hilarious performances and big action scenes with flame throwers, explosions, and bullet time, it will be hard to be bored by this flick.

Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes play Dave and John, twentysomethings introduced to a gooey, mind-altering substance, dubbed soy sauce, that frees them from the space-time continuum and allows them to read others' minds. It's not all fun and party tricks, though: taking the stuff makes them targets for all manner of icky, slithering beasts and inter-dimensional gnat swarms, only some of which are easy to squash. Attacks from these critters lend themselves to Sam Raimi-ish camera moves, though Coscarelli isn't as good as the Evil Dead director at making viewers laugh throughout a grisly life-or-death encounter. The main story is told in flashback, as Dave narrates to a newspaper reporter played by Paul Giamatti. While Giamatti brings welcome charisma to the cast, the framing device takes some air out of the story and leads viewers to expect a more clever overarching narrative than we actually get.

John Dies At The End

First of all this movie has something for everyone horror/scifi/cult/monster/ every movie loving person gets something out of this movie. Great acting and visuals that are both old techniques mixed with CGI. You will see monster suits! Coscarelli wisely uses live effects for most of his surreal sequences and otherworldly creatures and what little digital effects there are, are used sparingly and are decent enough. The live action animatronic creatures and gore are very well done by Make-up FX master Robert Kurtzman and his team. While the CGI is nowhere near top notch the movie itself will make you smile and laugh there is enough strange shit happening in each scene. While the movie can be confusing it also is charm that it happened since mostly the new movies can't provide even a decent story!

John Dies At The End

If there is one thing wrong with "John Dies At the End" it's the fact there is nothing new to be found here. We have such cult movies and such followings that nothing would really be new. This movie was pretty hyped and while I liked it but it never really lived up to the enormous hype it created. The novel has certain charms that again didn't get transferred to the big screen in the best way. It is a shame but what would you expect we can only be glad with what we did get in the end and that is a crazy, funny, weird little piece of cinema.

John Dies At The End

It's way more independent and low budget than I expected, but the cheap moments don't come from the quality of production but from hokey script moments and poor cinematography and editing decisions. These are rare though and they're a frequent problem for digital anyway. For the most part, the script is witty and the production benefits the film in the sense that it bristles with fresh and creative energy. It's great to see the potential and limits of what independent cinema can do. There's some great profound ideas scattered around, particularly one that I've always wanted to see explored in science-fiction properly which here involves an alternate universe where the only difference is someone 150 years ago not dying as a teenager and living onto adulthood and changing the entire world. It's a very well-cast film too, almost entirely comprised of newcomers besides the only familiar face, Paul Giamatti, who despite only having two locations for his character, he is throughout the film and gives possibly the best performance.

John Dies At The End

Enough bitching about the story and what isn't new "John Dies At the End" surprised me with it all its humor and winks to the old days of horror making. You won't waste 1 hour and 39 minutes with this one just make sure you have some friends around and a few beers and you're all set! And a note to Don Coscarelli "don't ever let us wait for another 10 years on a feature!". Coscarelli is an outstanding director and he shows this again with this movie!



John Dies At the End


John Dies At the End


Don Coscarelli






Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes and Paul Giamatti