Thursday, February 6, 2014

John Dies at the End (2012) - Review

I have David Wong (of fame)'s book, John Dies at the End, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.  But if it's anything like the film, then it's probably a quirky, somewhat campy novel full of intriguing ideas about drugs, monsters, and parallel dimensions.  Featuring a cast of mostly unknowns (and Paul Giamatti), the film is confusing, full of abrupt and nonsensical plot elements that fly at you like the gif birds from Birdemic at every turn.  It's a freaking blast.

I don't really have a lot to say about this one because it's a bit too insane for me to even describe.  Starting with a nonsequitur joke/riddle about an axe, the film keeps a tone that straddles Lovecraftian Eldritch horror with goofy humor throughout its entirety.  But this odd mix of tones should come to no surprise of fans of Don Coscarelli, the writer and director of this adaptation.  His previous work in the Phantasm films and Bubba Ho-Tep prove that he has chops in the surrealist horror/comedy department.

Anything that talks about parallel dimensions is automatically cool.  While I'm not strictly a sci-fi geek, I must admit that the concept is something I think about way more than I should, and it certainly opens up a lot of interesting philosophical questions, which are always fun.  And this movie is chock full of dimensional-hopping shenannigans, unspeakable Cthuloid creatures, and a great sense of humor to boot.  The acting is solid and surprisingly self-aware for such an unknown cast (and again, Paul Giamatti), but never to the point of annoyance.

If there's any fault, it's that the movie is a bit too abstract and confusing (which is probably recified a bit in the book without the limitations of an hour and a half running time), bouncing around from scene to scene with virtually no explanations, and the exposition given is almost Scott Pilgrim-y in its flippant, yet admirable desire to ever-so-slightly knock on that fourth wall.  Despite these minor shortcomings, it's a fun and odd little movie that should be watched by any fan of the horror/comedy genre.

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