John Dies at the End is the perfectly fun midnight movie. It’s got crazy monsters, a wacky but logical plot and sharp humor.
Every scene feels like it could be a whole movie, and it’s not that we get the highlight reel, we actually get all the movies in one. Each weird monster could be a whole slasher film, but it’s all encapsulated in the one scene. You could easily do a whole movie on the time hole telephone calls, on the Mall of Death, on the alternate dimensions.
David Wong (Chase Williamson) and his friend John (Rob Mayes) are monster hunters or supernatural busters or whatever familiar genre occupation you like to call it. The case of the Soy Sauce drug gives them psychic powers and crosses them back and forth through different dimensions and their own timeline.
The film definitely has things we’ve never seen before. The door knob gag is funnier than any of its raunchy counterparts in Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, and later the phantom limb payoff is a really beautiful way to bring it full circle. The creatures are really inventive, and I’m sure that comes from the book, but the artistry of realizing them on film is original to cinema. There are some regular old slimy toothy leggy creatures too, but like I said, its’ EVERY movie in here.
The tone is Buffy-esque, portraying the supernatural as just business, very nonchalant about all the extraordinary things happening. The dialogue is sly and there are beautiful moments of absurdity, like a bratwurst as a cell phone. Metaphysical tangents are just interrupted.
The pace slows a little between the weird interludes, but there are so many weird interludes you can wait for them. The pace really ramps up about halfway through though.
It definitely feels like an indie movie. I mean, technically, lots of empty parking lots, streets and sidewalks with a bare minimum of extras, if any. And restaurants with no customers except the main characters, but director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) makes the most of it. The film doesn’t really need to exist in a populated world.
John Dies at the End is totally fun and full of creativity.
CraveOnline Rating: 7/10