When Dave (Chase Williamson) sat down with Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) to tell the story about how he and his friend John (Rob Mayes), as a pair of supernatural investigators and eliminators, saved the world multiple times, across many dimension, the unimpressed writer thought it was all a joke or a scam. But no, it was all true. Every bit of it. Even the part about the dog. Wait, we haven’t gotten to that yet, have we?
Everything that happened happened because of a strange, possibly otherworldly drug, and the state of mind that follows. That drug is the reason Dave and John can see things no one else can see, it’s the reason time is no longer a linear concept to them, and it’s the reason they’ll never be the same.
From Don Coscarelli, the man behind Bubba Ho-Tep, comes this unique science-fiction, horror, comedy tale, so bloody cheeky it’s impossible not to fall in love with it. John Dies at the End is basically a nerd wet dream. An inside joke, geek fest chock-full of wonderful, strange, absurd moments, some of them so far out that they defy description. A mind-altering drug, beings from another dimension, a meat monster, giant bugs, phone calls from the future, and that’s just half of it. This is the kind of film, where you don’t bat an eye if there’s suddenly a cartoon sequence, or if a dog takes the wheel of a car and saves the day.
The best part, though, is that all this weirdness is delivered with such a disarming, casual attitude, in no small part thanks to stars Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes, who have a wonderful chemistry – you can tell they GET this film.
It’s impossible to watch John Dies at the End, without a puzzled look on your face. You’ll wonder, where IS this thing going? IS it going anywhere? Soon you won’t care, you’ll just enjoy the ride.
Unfortunately the unrelenting awesomeness of this film reaches an end… about 20 minutes before the credits. It just runs out of steam. As the film intensifies its focus, trying to wrap up a story that follows no known conventions, it loses the rambling mojo that made it special in the first place. I can forgive this loss of momentum towards the end, but it’s a bit of a shame, especially compared to the rest of the film.
Audio & Video:
John Dies at the End arrives on Blu-ray with a pleasant, sharp, saturated look, which nonetheless looks distinctly digital. There are some banding issues here and there, but they are not too distracting. The soundtrack is solid, and the effects and music give the back channels a good workout, when it’s appropriate.
- Commentary Track – Featuring the director, the producer and the two leads.
- Deleted Scenes (9:39) – A handful of deleted scenes, with a few good moments, but nothing anybody is going to miss.
- Getting Sauced: The Making of John Dies at the End (6:45) – A strange generic EPK doc, which simultaneously spoils several big plot points. Not sure who the target audience is for this.
- Creature Corps: The Effects of Soy Sauce (9:00) – A too brief behind the scenes glimpse of a few monster effects. The video quality is bad, and it all just seems a bit random.
- Casting Sessions (7:14) – Casting videos with some of the actors. That stuff is rarely worth watching, and this is no exception.
- Fangoria Interview with Paul Giamatti (9:51) – Likable interview, with a few bits of interesting information.
Despite stumbling so close to the goal, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time in the company of this weird film. Often when you come across a film that deserves the label “weird” it’s because a highfalutin director was trying to make some sort of point concerning his own navel. Perhaps to distinguish John Dies at the End from the others, we need a new term. How about “good weird”? Yeah, that’ll work. When I call you from the future and ask, will you remember to tell me I told you that?
Extra Features: C+