Like other films before it, including Pontypool and The Revenant, John Dies at the End bursts out of the gate but like a toddler telling a story it just can’t maintain the momentum through to the end. The early stages sure are interesting though.
David Wong is a young white guy trying to keep a low profile – hence the non-white surname, chosen specifically due to it being the surname of more people on Earth than any other.
David works with John, and together they handle ‘unusual situations’. For example in one two minute scene in the early stages of this film these situations include a man made out of frozen meat, a penis door handle, and a young woman who spontaneously explodes into snakes.
If the truth scares you Vincent, then maybe you should stop asking scary questions…
Perhaps now might be a good time to point out that a psychosomatic drug called ‘the sauce’ is responsible for the direction of this film’s plot, which as a result is responsible for rendering any description of said plot pointless from this point forward,
What I hope I can convey is that this is a weird film indeed, with alien beings, ghost doors, one handed women and a race of people from an alternate universe with masks that are both cool and upsetting simultaneously.
For their part David and John are so used to seeing things that you just can’t see, both in the future and the present, that they are a little jaded by their own freakish abilities, and the story unfurls as David describes it to a reporter named Arnie (Paul Giamatti), who goes from sceptic to interested listener to hanging from David’s every word real quick.
I would like to say the movie is endlessly inventive… But I’ll settle for very inventive and most certainly different to anything I have seen since The Naked Lunch and Videodrome, both of which are well over two decades old. The imagery is creative, the performances solid and the story a breath of fresh air, but as a 100 minute experience it becomes increasingly uneven and basically runs out of ‘sauce’.
I can heartily recommend this for those with an experimental bent or simply for someone willing to give something new a chance. John Dies at the End is unfortunately not ‘totally weird’, but in an era where safe and commercial are too often buzzwords, ‘mostly weird’ is a welcome turn up.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Like the films mentioned at the top of this review, I can’t guarantee you’ll love the film, but I can say you haven’t seen anything like this recently.