Under the Radar?: “John Dies at the End”

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“John Dies at the End” is a 2012 supernatural horror comedy starring Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes and Paul Giamatti.

Let’s see… how do I explain this?

A reporter (Paul Giamatti) is conducting an interview at a Chinese restaurant with a young man named David Wong (Chase Williamson)

David began experiencing a number of strange events recently, starting at a party. There, an eerily prescient Rastafarian was able to tell him much way too much about his future and his dreams. Then afterwards his friend John (Rob Mayes) called him and begged him to come over, acting VERY strangely. Once David arrives, he finds John almost literally climbing the walls, in fear of his safety. After David calms him down a bit, he finds out that John tried a new drug that he names “Soy Sauce”. “Soy Sauce” grants its users enhanced metaphysical awareness. People are able to experience time non-linearly, speak with the dead, and to see beings from alternate dimensions and other sundry unbelievable abilities.

It turns out, as strange as it sounds, Soy Sauce is only a precursor to an invasion of inter-dimensional parasitic organisms bent on the conquest of Earth.

The plot of “John Dies at the End” is hard to do justice to, because the movie is literally batshit crazy. It’s told non-linearly, has elements of time travel, inter-dimensional travel, drug use, aliens, spirits… I think there was a zombie in there at one point, but I’m not sure, it’s crazy. But that’s the point of “John Dies”. It’s an intentionally wild and whacky story that plays fast and loose with reality for the sake of a lighthearted, comedic feel. You get the feeling that it’s all camp and tongue in cheek right from the first few minutes. It’s so busy not taking itself seriously that there’s no way that you can. Thankfully, it’s fun, otherwise there would be nothing to it.

Williamson’s Wong is a deadpan lead, perfect for reacting to the surrealistic events that unfold. His buddy John (Rob Mayes) comes across as a smarmy, arrogant counterpoint. Together they have stupefyingly ridiculous adventures, interspersed with cut scenes of Williamson telling his story to Giamatti. Clancy Brown shows up occasionally as the mysterious Marconi, who has a powerful hand in events.

The mysterious drug leads to knowledge of the alien infestation, which in turn leads them to cross dimensions in the hope of saving humanity. Along the way they meet a motley cast of characters, some possessed, some dead, others merely infested with alien bugs. The two try to keep their nonchalant attitudes in tact along the way! It’s pretty much pure nonsense right from the start, but it’s done in such a fun, frivolous way that it’s hard not to buy into.

Bizarre, quirky and humorous, “John Dies at the End” is an offbeat, surrealistic comedy that’s sure to find its fans.

A-

Daniel Fogarty

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39 thoughts on “Under the Radar?: “John Dies at the End”

  1. Watched this about 5 or 6 weeks ago. It was very funny. Athough my roommate, who sat down in the middle of it, felt cheated because John didn’t die. I was like — oh, that happened already. He said that at least the wheel movie didn’t try to trick him. (The wheel movie is a running joke in our house. It is the 2010 film, Rubber, in which a tire comes to life, learns to stand and move on it’s own and promptly goes on a killing spree.)

    • It’s more like, John dies in the middle, and then gets brought back to life by an intelligent Dog under the influence of an alien drug. Right? LOL

      I started watching Rubber and gave up after like two minutes. I quickly abandoned ship on that one! ;)

  2. Just saw this less than a week ago and it is batshit crazy and good for being that nutty! It blazes wonderous ground as a “Naked Lunch” meets “They Live.”

    I had a ton of fun with this and was surprised at how strange it got! A must see!

  3. This is a movie I’ve never seen and to be honest I completely forgot about it. Very high rating which really excites me. I think I need to give it a look. Thanks for putting it back on my radar.

  4. Mark me in favor of WEIRD. Weird is good.

    HST said it best, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

    I’m all-pro weird, someday I hope to go to the Weird Pro-Bowl.

    So, maybe I should see this flick, huh?

  5. Sounds like it ought to be a fun one. Not surprised it flew under the radar, though; I only remember hearing a little bit about it before it went into — and out of — the theatres.

    • I don’t think it was in theatres long, if at all, you know? It was one of those small indie types deals.

      Meanwhile, it definitely IS fun. It was a lot of fun. Goofy and strange as all Hell, but definitely fun stuff. :D

  6. Phantasm, Bubba Ho Tep, John Dies At the End. Sounds like a quality lineage. I was discouraged by a couple of on line write ups, but this is much more encouraging. Still disappointed that it’s not Bubba Nosferatu.

  7. Good review man. Something tells me I needed to be pretty stoned, or pretty drunk in order to fully enjoy the hell out of this. Until then, this movie will remain moderately okay, for the least bit.

  8. Never saw this. I sorta figured hey, no sense in paying $8 for a movie that already tells me how it ends, Haha. Sounds like a fun movie though, thanks Fogs.

    • LOL. Well, of course if your own Soy Sauce was actually nothing like THEIR Soy Sauce, then yes. :D Their Soy Sauce makes ALL KINDS of shit happen man! 8O LOL

      Yeah, it’s a fun time. A goofy, fun movie, man!

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