Movie review: John Dies at the End is a crazy trip into an insane world

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imagesIt’s a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce, and users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can’t. (Synopsis from IMDB)

This is a weird movie. You’ve been warned. You know you are in for it when a door knob turns into a giant penis. Yes, you read that. Or that a freezer full of meat comes together to form a giant, talking body.

Based on the book of the same title by James Wong (the pseudonym of Jason Pargin), John Dies at the End was directed by Don Coscarelli and stars Chase Williamson as protagonist and narrator David Wong,  Rob Mayes as David’s stoner pal, John, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, and Doug Jones. This movie is a demented, full blown crazed mind trip of a good old freaky time with some pretty amazing performances by the cast. Somehow, all of the disparate elements of the story come together to create a crazy adventure that pulls the audience in, rather than dragging them behind.

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Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes give an admirable performance as the two “heroes” of the tale, who inject themselves with a drug that they refer to as “soy sauce”. This isn’t your typical sushi condiment, but a living drug that grows hair, crawls, and turns into insects. It gives you certain powers and enables the duo see the unseen that exists all around them. Chase Williamson basically narrates this story as he is trying to convince a doubting journalist (played by Paul Giamatti) that his tale is true. The interaction between the two is extremely entertaining and engaging.

The creepy priest seriously freaks me out, especially when his eyes turn completely black.

I think one of the best ways to describe this movie is that it almost feels like how I imagine it would be if you were injected with the “soy sauce”. Alternate realities, time travel, scorpion/spider hybrids, giant slugs with teeth, little white bugs that make your eyeballs explode, mind reading, phantom limb syndrome, etc all have their place in the movie. Usually for me, it is fairly straightforward to write a review for a movie, especially a horror movie. Not so with this one. This movie is about as far from the typical fare that is offered today, and it is that uniqueness that will make this movie (and I hope they make another movie out of the book’s sequel) into an instant cult classic.

Marconi2Another high point of the film are the additions of Clancy Brown and Doug Jones. Brown plays a televangelist who also is able to live in the word of the unseen and provides assistance to the duo. Doug Jones portrays a somewhat creepy character who questions reality and introduces the giant slugs with teeth to us. While neither of the actors were given a large amount of screen time, their contributions helped make this movie as entertaining as it is.

While there are parts that may drag for some viewers (discussions of the metaphysical, obscure, and insane), overall, I think most people are going to find this film intriguing. I’m give this movie an 8 out of 10, and I encourage everyone to check it out. Especially if you like an absolute twisted, demented mind trip.

So, tell me what you think? Have you watched this movie or read the book? Let me know!

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