Dave discovers the new street drug Soy Sauce - but does it give you more than just a trip? Dave and his friend John are now in the middle of an interdimensional war fighting for the human race. And anything can happen.
Raise a hand if you're surprised that Don Coscarelli made a strange movie. None? Oh, that's right, you've all seen "Phantasm" and "Bubba Ho-Tep" enough to know that strange is the one Coscarelli flavour. It's been nearly 35 years since he took a spot as a master of horror, especially his own kind of horror, with "Phantasm" and isn't it great to see him still living up to the oddities of then? "John Dies at the End" quickly drew attention to itself because of the title, but I can tell you right now that it simply doesn't matter what happens at the end.
Dave is given the new street drug called Soy Sauce, and soon finds himself in "Dude, Where's My Car?". Okay, almost. Soy Sauce doesn't just give you a hallucinative trip - it actually does one of two things. Either you'll find yourself dying in the most macabre way possible and returning to fight against humankind. Or you survive, and that means you're one of the few chosen ones to fight in an interdimensional war.
The story isn't that essential so I will keep that paragraph to a minimal. All bets are off in "John Dies at the End", and that might unfortunately be the most important thing about the movie. The mention of "Dude, Where's My Car?" isn't just a joke, if I had to name a movie that I was reminded of while watching "John Dies at the End" then oddly enough that's the closest I can get. With a more focus on horror, of course. That's not meant as a bad thing, really, because it offers something we don't get very often - a ride purely made out of the fun and the bizarre. This is a movie where a doorknob can turn into a sloppy dick, a freezer full of meat can turn into a meat monster and losers can be heroes (okay, that one is not an uncommon story). Either way, "John Dies at the End" throws the unexpected at you, and keeps doing so. It's hard to be bored with the movie, but like the self-proclaimed random "Rubber" I instantly get distanced from the movie once I realize that "anything can happen". When all bets are literally off, it's just hard to be surprised any more.
There's a ton of CGI to be found here, which isn't a surprise, but I am sure some tricks could have been done with more practical effects. When extremely random things are made with rather unconvincing CGI effects, it's all a mess of disbelief that throws you out of the movie again. Still, I can't blame them as there is a ton of things going on, and so many different designs needed. At least the CGI isn't terrible, even though it's unconvincing - and luckily the movie isn't to be taken seriously to begin with. It has plenty of violent scenes, and they do get quite gory. It's to be expected with a modern horror that thrives on doing everything in excess.
With some fun characters and bizarre creatures, I think that Paul Giamatti's role might be my favorite. More so than the interesting meat monster! Generally I do enjoy Paul Giamatti but rarely do I see myself as a big fan or so, but he fits perfectly into this movie. So much so that I would have wanted him to have a bigger role.
"John Dies at the End" is a "Dude, Where's My Car?"-like sci-fi horror by a man who has created masterful oddities in the past. At times it also brings the sadly cancelled show "Reaper" to mind - just with less likable leads. This is no "Phantasm" and no "Bubba Ho-Tep", but at least it's not trying to be. Based on a comic book by David Wong, Coscarelli is certainly not the only one to thank (or blame) for what this movie is, though. It's all about the wild, the fun, the unexpected and the experience, and that much is achieves. It entertained me and I was kept busy until the end, but there is a general flaw in complete randomness and "being all over the place" to me. It shouldn't be missed though, as many seem to love the hell out of it. Don Coscarelli fans should also be sure not to miss it!