Title: John Dies At The End
Director: Don Coscarelli
Cast: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones, Fabianne Therese and Fred Chu
There’s a tradition of horror movies screening at the Sundance Film Festival that will shock, delight but always entertain the usual highbrow moviegoer. What I love about this festival is simply capturing the indie spirit of filmmaking no matter what the genre. So every year there are a few oddball horror films that you wouldn’t believe unless you saw. I can honestly say, I have never seen a film quite like “John Dies At The End.” The new film from director Don Coscarelli, at times, works but for the most part it feels as if I’m not in on the joke going on here.
The story follows a pair of supernatural slackers, Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes), from a small town in Illinois and the wacky things that go on there from the dead coming back to life and people getting repossessed by tiny moths. They try to investigate what exactly is going on in their town as the audience watches on tries to figure out what’s going on in this movie. I’m not going to lie, I had a hard time following the narrative as it weaves in and out of logic as if the rules of this movie change from minute to minute. Dave appears to be the soul survivor of the paranormal escapades as he is interviewed by an investigative reporter, Arnie (Paul Giamatti), as they try to figure out what happened to John.
This movie is complete nonsense. The parallels between reality and the alternative are absurd but not in a good way. There seems to be no rhyme or reason with “John Dies At The End,” as the narrative unfolds. It started out being about a conspiracy theory led by a police detective and then devolves into a plot to save the world from evil space moths and an organic super computer. I usually have fun with movies like this, but I couldn’t get behind it. As soon as you have a grasp on what’s going on, the mood and narrative change as if this is a movie for people with attention deficit disorder. It’s manic!
At it’s very best, “John Dies At The End” is fun enough to laugh at but at its worst it’s a shlock-fest of moronic inside jokes. It is filled with TV movie effects and CGI, and it makes me wonder why this was even made. It’s the type of film that should’ve stayed on the filmmaker’s laptop and would be only shown at friend’s parties, in the background while their guests enjoy their company. Other than that, I found nothing redeemable or satisfying about this film. My God, “Watch out for the soy sauce!” is actually the catchphrase of this film. If that doesn’t sound like an inside joke then “Molly has a fever pitch on Sunday!”