Sundance 2012 Review: John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End

My brain is constantly full of bizarre things that are pretty much impossible to describe.  At any given moment, it’s like a mass gathering of indescribable insanity.  But you know, I enjoy it.  It helps me write crazy shit and I’m never bored.  This is exactly why I had a freakin’ blast with John Dies at the End.  This movie is like my brain — chock full of indescribable insanity that is almost impossible to describe.  Easy to understand?  No.  Conventional?  No.  Specific to any one genre?  No.  Entertaining as all hell?  Oh, dear lord YES.

Let me try to sum up the premise.  Well, there’s this guy John, and his friend Dave.  One night, Dave gets a frantic call from John and discovers that John has taken this strange new drug called, “Soy Sauce.”  It’s like the ULTIMATE hallucinogenic.  Only, um, it’s not really a hallucinogenic.  It let’s you see and hear things that you weren’t supposed to… things that maybe are from another dimension?  Things from hell?  Things that are around us, but our normal eyes wouldn’t let us see?  Well, figuring out what’s really happening is part of the enjoyment of the movie.  It’s a MAJOR trip.  And to be honest, when you find out what is happening, it’s more confusing than when you had no clue.  Yes, this is that kind of movie.  But guess what, I didn’t even care.  I went along for the ride.  But yeah, back to to John and Dave…  So he takes this drug and all of a sudden he’s seems to be able to travel through time?  Or more like can be in numerous different times all at once?  It’s up to Dave to figure this all out.  Hmm, it’s hard to explain.  Let me get to the bratwurst telephone.  Oh wait, maybe I should back up to the packaged frozen meat monster.  But, I really should talk about the hell moths first.  Okay, whoa…  remember what I said about indescribable insanity?  That’s what I’m running into here.  Let’s just say it’s a story about a few friends who take a crazy drug and discover that they’re the only ones that can save the world.  Yeah, that’ll have to work for now.

This movie is like a mad scientist who adds a few other mad scientists’ brains to his, in order to make an ultimate mad scientist brain totem pole.  Because honestly there’s way too much insanity for one mad scientist brain.  There is more imagination on display in this movie than any one movie I’ve seen in ages.  Besides that fantastic packaged frozen meat monster (yes, he summons numerous packages of various frozen meats in order to create himself a body, complete with a turkey for a head), there is a girl that turns into snakes, a door handle that turns into a penis (so that, ha, the men won’t touch the handle), and a Vegas-style psychic that can banish demons by talking to them through a cell phone.  Oh, and the best part?  All of these things I just described are within the first 10 minutes!  I’m NOT kidding.  This movie is one of the most insane visual trips you will EVER see, and for those that appreciate imagination over all else, this is definitely for you.

For a little bit of comfort, there are some familiar faces that will keep you warm and cozy, like Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown.  In addition, the two leads, Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes are two guys you definitely want to follow, and win.  But the “comfort” stops there, and that’s exactly how you want it.  The director Don Coscarelli (a horror icon of mine, btw, director of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep) knows exactly how to play with your brain.  And for me, one of my favorite things is that he doesn’t always rely on CGI for all his effects.  There are a decent amount, yes.  But there are also a lot of practical effects work that are just fantastic.  These old school touches mixed with the new school forms are the perfect thing to create an off-balance feeling of “what the hell am I going to see next?

If you’re reading this, and you’re going, “I have no idea what this movie is about, or what even happens in it“, then that’s perfect.  That’s what I want.  It’s best to go into this movie knowing NOTHING.  You want that off-kilter feeling of truly not knowing where this baby is heading.  Because as things are revealed, I’m serious when I say you almost won’t believe it.  It’s that insane… and awesome.  Right down to the final scene, which made me immediately want the sequel, John Dies at the End… Again.

So if you like movies that are like one long all-you-can-eat buffet of psychedelic mushrooms, then like me, you will LOVE this.  But if The Notebook is more your kind of movie viewing “adventure”, then stay away.  This movie will literally blow your brain, Scanners style.

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2 thoughts on “Sundance 2012 Review: John Dies at the End

  1. I’ve read the book which was awesome so I really want to see the movie. The second book will be out in a couple of months and is called: this book is full of spiders, seriously dude don’t touch it! so I guess that if they’ll make a sequel to the film it’ll be: This movie is full of spiders, seriously dude don’t watch it. Great review I hope I’m able to see the movie soon!

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