The new street drug known as Soy Sauce, promises to sends its users across time and various dimensions for a truly uniquely out of body experience that no other trip has been able to deliver. After returning to from the journey of a lifetime, it appears that many of the users of this newfound drug do not return as human. Now it is up to John and David, a bumbling pair of college drop outs to stop the invasion from taking over the rest of humanity. John Dies at the End (2012) is based on the horror novel parody with the same name, the film pays great tribute to H.P Lovecraft’s iconic writing style and Hieronymus Bosch’s bizarre surreal visual style. The film is wonderfully weird and twisted filled with beautifully rich dialogue similar to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) and a story analogous to Dude, Where’s my Car (2000) and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989). John is an eccentric original film, that deviates from the normal. The story is not for everyone, but expect weird and over the top. For those who appreciate a layered film that allows you to go on a trip with the filmmakers all through the journey of our protagonists, this a memorable piece of cinema.
In a world of sparkly vampires, kissing werewolves and superhuman witches, John felt like a big F U to average Hollywood audiences and filmmakers who are incestuously reusing previous used ideas. After finishing John, I had a good chuckle, and felt as though I had been privileged to be in on an inside joke. Finding out that Don Coscarelli, the creative genius behind the cult classic films Phantasm (1979) and Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) was responsible for taking on the creative process of John, I knew it would executed with the vision, and originality that the story deserved. The film is comedic, but not in the same way as a Scary Movie horror comedy. It is hard to compare the film to any other comedic horror or fantasy film, as it is truly that original. But it is cheesy and fun like Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983) and Naked Lunch (1991), so these are good points of comparison.
If you are a fan of the book, do not be surprised with the changes and differences between the two mediums. I have read the book as well, and I feel as though the choices made by the filmmakers were appropriate for the type of medium they were using. The task at taking such an imaginative 500 page story and regurgitating it on screen was a hefty task to do, but I believe that it was executed with the same vision the author of the novel had. The integrity of the book is maintained, with the same philosophical intrigue that leaves you pondering the many strange scenes you witnessed.
In order to get the most out of the film, you have to be willing to recognize that this was a low budget film with a 1980s flare to it. But where it lacks in budget it makes up in story, acting and intrigue. Do not try to understand it. Just embrace the strange and go along for the ride. Listen to the dialogue and read between the lines is what makes the film so enjoyable. The set design and the attention to detail is remarkable, there are hidden jokes in every scene. Grab a beer with a friend and go along for a weird trippy ride and see John Dies at the End.