Tuesday, February 12, 2013

John Dies at the End

This will be my second time reviewing John Dies at the End. In total however, I've seen it three times.  It's exactly the sort of offbeat sci-fi horror/comedy that's impossible to resist. It's about two buddies, Dave and John, who come into contact with this new edgy drug called the 'soy sauce'. Little do they know it'll open their eyes to a big interdimensional war full of creatures and mysterious beings. This is a great setup for a movie. Based on a 'biographical' book by "David Wong" (re-emphasizes with air quotes)  which I have not read yet, I can only assume plenty of the book was chopped out.

  Not to say John Dies isn't a good movie and all, it's good in it's own special way. It's ballsy. It's crude, unique, outrageous, and adventurous, the likes of which genre sci-fi doesn't see enough of. So it's very easy for me to recommend this movie and support it as much as possible, because it's something of a rarity. Albeit an enjoyable one too. The cast is peppered with really good and well known actors, including the likes of Paul Giamatti (who's totally loving every second of this), Clancy Brown, and the amazing Doug Jones. The two leads however, Dave and John, are played by relative newcomers Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes, respectively.

Although Williamson is the anchor for the audience and actually really fun to watch as he plays Dave, who shuffles through the movie with a bewildered daze, it's truly Rob Mayes who steals the show as the incorrigible and undeniably fun, John.  The dynamic between Dave and John is perfect, and Williamson and Mayes really sell it. Their performances aren't bulletproof however. Specifically Williamson's, but when he gets it right, he really gets it right.  Mayes is the total scene stealer though, turning in an energetic and inspired turn, on what could've been a painfully cliche role. John is like that one guy we all seem to know, unreliable yet irresistible  Wild and wacky, yet oft drunk or high. As Dave recalls, he never guessed John would be the one to bring about the end of the world.  Neither would I. 

  John Dies at the End has some serious issues to is. Character arcs range from underdeveloped to outright butchered, seemingly left mostly on the cutting room floor. There's so much unexplained that you kinda have to let the logic Nazi in your head take a backseat whilst watching this in order to fully enjoy it. Shit happens out of nowhere sometimes and if an explanation is given, it's a very fleeting one. The thing about it I found to be okay was that, the flaws kinda work with the tone of the movie. It's such an unexpected and random experience already, that these logic gaps and glaring continuity errors almost feel truer to the "I don't know what the hell is going on!" mindframe that Dave has through the entire movie. Not to say they're excusable, or that they 'enhance' the experience, like film grain to grindhouse. Not at all. They're sloppy mistakes, or their signs of rushed production, or shoddy editing or any one of the above... but they don't ruin the experience for you. They certainly didn't for me.

  In a movie where all of the raw meat in a freezer comes to life and assembles itself as a fully sentient monster... and where door knobs can turn into dangling male genitalia to discourage escape... logic gaps and continuity errors probably won't be upsetting the movie for you. It's so bat-shit crazy off the wall to begin with, that these errors for me were mostly noticed in retrospect, or upon repeat viewing.  It's also a serious tragedy that Doug Jones had maybe 4 total minutes of screentime. His name alone could be a serious selling point to many potential viewers who will be woefully disappointed to see the actor almost entirely wasted in a short and peripheral role that honestly only exists to move the plot forward. Sad. Alas, the movie is totally fun. Full of gross out humor, grade-A gore, and wildly imaginative sci-fi trappings. It's quite an action packed little endeavor and it gets a full recommendation from me

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