Movie Review: John Dies at the End

2 Feb



If you go to a rock concert at a local hole-in-the wall, you aren’t going for perfectly arranged melodies or high production value, rather you’re going for a rock stompin, balls-to-the-wall, wild time.   That’s John Dies at the End.  End of Review.

Ok, so it’s not the end of the review, and ***WATCH OUT FOR SPOILERS*** not that I think you can have too many honest-to-goodness spoilers in a movie like this.  John Dies at the end is really an episodic series of stories tied together by this man who’s telling his story to a reporter in a diner.   There’s this drug called soy sauce that opens doors to another dimension that all our main characters take.   So in a drug spiked fantasy, you’ve got a man possessed by a swarm of flies, giant leeches, a meat monster, a gigantic tentacled monster intent on conquering the world, a genius dog, and about a million other little things of that nature.   It’s always interesting, and the movie flows at a pretty good pace.

What it reminds me of the most is The Naked Gun movies–not in subject matter, but in the sense that you’ve got a bunch of things thrown at you and some things will stick and some things won’t.   In the end more of it sticks than doesn’t.  But don’t look for cohesion, or character development, or a nice pretty little story that comes to a really nice little loop at the end.    I have to give the movie a lot of credit for taking an incoherent storyline and making it consistently interesting.  It’s so easy for a movie like this to fall into weirdness boredom where once you get accustomed to the atmosphere and nothing really adds up to anything beyond that.

However, there are a couple of moments this film where the muddiness of plot caused confusion.   The connection to the creature at the end and the oddities going on in the real world could have been stronger, and I’m still not sure how the main characters ran their ghostbusting business.   However, this isn’t the sort of movie that you’re meant to focus on these things.

One thing that gets me is the amount of very negative reviews this movie gets.   I think it’s because this movie is intentionally messy, a little bit hipster, and slightly smug at times.   I get that, but that movies like this are pulling from movies that are unintentionally entertaining (good-bad movies), and trying to intentionally make something like them with a much bigger budget–I don’t see that as blasphemy.   In fact, John Dies at the End has fewer boring moments and lulls than those good-bad movies tend to.   All in all, I highly recommend this movie, if you’re in the mood for something a little different.

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