Friday, December 28, 2012

FILM REVIEW: John Dies At The End (2012)


Son...I'm gonna be honest with you. We both know you're fucked!

John Dies at the End  is required viewing. It's the kind of film that inspires so many cool elements...yet, it may never go on to become huge, unfortunately. However, it will resonate within the subliminal blueprints of many films to come. It is that creative epic that can only come from the mind of a person that's had enough of the usual bullshit that enjoys mainstream multiplex releases every other weekend. It will become the stuff of legend.

Now, in order to have an ending...we must start at the beginning. Which, technically, is the ending. But, then...is there an ending if the beginning never existed? And if that ending never comes...then, why are we all still here? And why am I talking into this pizza? These are the kinds of things that will, no doubt, swim around in your skull after watching the new film directed by Don Coscarelli (the guy who brought us Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep  and The fucking Beastmaster, for all those keeping score). It is a film that will bum most people out...because...why the fuck aren't we living in this movie?! If there was one film I would like to live in this year...it would be John Dies at the End.

If you're familiar with the original book by David Wong, then there's really no need to go into the particulars of this film. However, for the uninitiated in the house...the film is a loose interpretation of the book...focusing on the more traditional elements. A couple buddies from back in the day get their hands on some mystic "soy sauce" which enables them to see worlds beyond what is known. Especially the netherworld. So, they become sort of ghost busters...for a newer, cooler generation.


Chase Williamson plays our David Wong in the film. He's a relatively unknown headed for bigger things. He's got that charisma that could hoist an entire film on his shoulders while, simultaneously, maintaining a powerful supporting role nature about him. Unassuming, yet full of coiled talent...ready to burst at any given moment.

Speaking of talent, Rob Mayes, relies mostly on his looks. Don't get me wrong, he is mostly sufficient in his portrayal of the titular John...but, I was expecting more of a powerhouse, I guess. You know when you have someone pictured in your head of how someone from a book would look like? Well, I guess I was pretty wrong. That's not to say that I didn't like Mayes as John...I mean, I didn't want him to die throughout the whole film. Does that spoil anything?

Anyway, when you have a film full of people like Paul Giamatti, Angus Scrimm, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones and Clancy Brown all contributing memorable performances...you pretty much have a recipe for something fucking special. And I don't throw around the term "fucking special" too often.


That's pretty much all that I'm going to share for fear of revealing anything about this film that might spoil it. Because, the film is best served going in cold. Even if you've read the book, it's cool going into the film discovering things from the awesome novel. It's really a wonder that works on both counts. Really, the only unfortunate thing that I can say about JDATE  is that it only clocks in at a scant 99 minutes. I mean...fuck, man! This is a film that could've been 3 hours long! The book is chockful of cool shit and things that would certainly play perfectly in a film directed by Don Coscarelli. If it was a budgetary choice...then, ok...but, still. I wanted this film to play on forever.

And that's really the only thing bad that I can say about JDATE. The skimpy running time doesn't allow for the film to take its time...sort of rushing the viewer with its cool visuals and even cooler concepts. It doesn't feel like a complete movie. Though, I have to imagine they will (HOPEFULLY) make further installments. So, whetting our appetite with this film seems appropriate, if not mean. Perhaps a 3 hour director's cut on Blu-Ray?? MAGNET? Are you paying attention??

As far as budgetary constraints go...the special effects aren't the best that I've seen. But, that is perfectly fine for a film of this nature. The intention is key here and we give the filmmakers a round of applause for, basically, giving the big FUCK YOU to CGI (for the most part).


The best thing about John Dies at the End  is that it lives in its own universe and never attempts to hold your hand throughout the journey. If you can't keep up...well, my friend, that's pretty much your problem. It's a film ripe with imagination and wonder. It explains everything...while explaining nothing. It entertains, it provokes and most of all...it succeeds.

To say that I loved John Dies at the End  would be like saying that I love horror films. It's too broad a statement. I love this film for everything that horror isn't these days. Original, imaginative, provocative...and pretty much anything else that the genre is sorely missing. It'll always remain a mystery to me as to why a film like Chernobyl Diaries  enjoys big budget marketing and huge distribution...while, JDATE  will probably only see a limited "blink and you'll miss it" release this January. Which is why it is important that you rent this one on iTunes or On Demand. Then, run to the one theater that will be showing it on January 25th. Then, run home and buy the t-shirt. That way we can all enjoy more adventures of Dave and John.

In the end...you don't choose the soy sauce...the soy sauce chooses you. Just choose to watch John Dies at the End....NOW!





Thanks for reading,

bryan.




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