Sundance Journal: ‘John Dies at the End’

I’m still weirded out by ‘John Dies at the End’. If there’s ever been a movie that felt like ‘Supernatural’ on acid, but produced by the Syfy Channel, this is it.

From the title, you know that the movie really isn’t going to take itself too seriously. That turns out to be a good thing, because there’s no way this movie could’ve been done seriously in the first place. The problem is that while it starts off rather funnily, with a demented sort of ‘Pushing Daisies’ style of dialogue, the movie soon overstays its welcome.

There’s a new drug on the market called Soy Sauce. It gets your brain moving at crazy lightspeed, kind of like that stuff in ‘Limitless’, only here the people who take it can read dreams, tell the future and talk to the dead. Oh, and they have hallucinations – lots of them – like meat monsters made from the finest cuts of beef.

Dave (Chase Williamson) has been tripping on the Sauce for a while now, and he’s trying to tell his story to a reporter named Arnie (Paul Giamatti). Of course, Arnie finds it hard to believe that Dave can see the future, but Dave soon puts Arnie’s skepticism to rest.

The movie laughs along with itself as Dave and his friend John (Rob Mayes) fight off demons from other dimensions – demons they can only see because they’re taking the Sauce. Where the movie goes off the rails is when it tries to actually incorporate a plot into the weird vibe it has put together. We’ve had zombies, talking frankfurters, and even dogs that drive, so why do we need a plot? Why do we need anything other than Dave spouting off hilarious dialogue like verbal diarrhea? We don’t. The movie works well enough when it banks on its insanity to carry it through.

The film isn’t as funny as other horror comedies that have come out of Sundance (chiefly ‘Tucker and Dale vs. Evil’), but it does have some very funny moments. It indeed looks like something the Syfy Channel would pick up and put on late at night. That’s okay, because it would be tons better than the crappy monster movies the network plays now.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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