John Dies At the End (2013)




There is a Wildhearts or maybe its a Ginger solo song, I don't remember and I am far too lazy to get up, walk to the other side of the room and look it up, called 'Baby is a Headfuck'. Change "baby" to "movie" and that about sums up the John Dies At The End experience.

John marks the long awaited return to the directors chair of vaunted Phantasm creator Don Coscarelli. It's hard to believe that Coscarelli, the man not only behind Phantasm but The Fucking Beastmaster hadn't directed a feature film since 2002's awesome Bubba Ho-Tep. Based on the novel by David Wong, John..., is an odd film to say the least. There are some tremendous moments and the dialogue is first rate, but the plot will wind up being too far out there for ninety percent of the audience.

"Let me explain...no there is too much...let me sum up." This quote from The Princess Bride is probably the best way to introduce the "plot" for John Dies at the End. Essentially, and I hope this is right, because there is a lot of shit going on here, there is a new drug. This drug, called "the sauce" allows certain people who take it to develop telepathic powers and transport through time and dimensions. Others who take it end up dead...or worse. There are people and beings from this dimension (and others) that would seek to destroy those that have the powers "the sauce" bestows on them. Our two heroes Dave and John leap from time stamp to time stamp and dimension to dimension attempting to rid the universe of the Korrok, all knowing living machine created by someone who died at 15 in out timeline, but lived to become the worlds greatest inventor in his. Aiding them in their quest are a shady TV preacher (the awesome Clancy Brown) and Bark Lee, Dave's ex-girlfriends Golden Retriever.

If the above summary didn't already tell you, John Dies At The End is more of an amalgam of fucked up parts rather than a cohesive narrative. That's both a blessing and a curse for the film. There are moments, tremendous moments, that make you think this is one of the most ingenious and original films released in a long time. Part Donnie Darko, part Terry Gilliam opus, with a script by Tarantino. But as far as any cohesion or link between these parts, it's non-existent and it really hurts the overall viewing experience.

Coscarelli does a tremendous job with what could have been a nightmare to film. He gets a tremendous performance out of Chase Williamson as Dave. Clancy Brown and jack of all trades Paul Giamatti turn in buoying performances, keeping an otherwise insane film slightly less insane. The effects are practical and wonderful, especially for a film with, what had to be a rather limited budget.

Overall, if your head doesn't explode from films like this, John Dies At The End can be a unique, fulfilling movie watching experience.  If your looking for something that will provide a few great one liners, some cool looking effects, good performances and one hell of a head fuck, then grab a six pack sit back and enjoy!

***1/2 stars out of *****

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