Saturday, August 3, 2013

John Dies At The End - QC Review

Directed by: Don Coscarelli
Starring:  Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti
Rated: R  
Runtime: 1 hour 39 minutes  
Release Date: March 22, 2013

There are weird movies and there are strange movies. There are movies that make no sense, there are movies that need multiple viewings to understand. There are movies that have twists and turns, there are movies that have shocking endings. There are good movies and there are bad movies. There are movies that are so bad they're good and movies that are just plain crazy stupid. Then there is John Dies at the End, a movie that fits all those classifications and probably makes up a few new ones of its own.

To explain what this film is, is to fail at explaining what this film is. Don't take these cryptic words as a round-about way of hailing the film as some sort of manic genius, because it's not. It simply is a film that is so outside the box and so self aware that it borders a bit on the pretentious side. But there is a certain charm to its special brand of crazy, where it's willingness to do whatever the hell it wants whenever the hell it wants and never feel the need to ever explain or even contextualize why any of it is happening is just sort

Put in its most simplist of terms, the film is about these two friends, Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes), who come in contact with a strange substance (which they call soy sauce) that allows them to see these other beings from another dimension living in our world who are hidden from our normal range of vision. These beings range from human looking to these brain-like looking spidery things that like to hang out on ceilings, whose purpose in our dimension seems to have something to do with the colonization of our world.  Dave and John unwittingly inherit the task of becoming the protectors of our world after sampling some of that soy sauce and must face off against these beings from another dimension.

If that sounds pretty straight forward, well, that's because it is. But only because it took to full viewings of the film before finally being able to comprehend just the basics of its plot enough to explain it. Where all the weird comes into play is when the film derails and goes off on these tangets of deeper meanings in these attempts to seem mystical and profound. The best example of this is the opening scene of the film where Dave (who serves as the film's narrator) explains how if you were able to discypher the meaning behind this riddle about a resurrected dead man and whether or not the axe that killed him, which has had all its major components changed out over time, is still the same axe that killed him despite no longer having any of the same pieces any more, that you can solve the mysteries of the universe.

Stuff like that and other random situations such as seeing dogs driving cars, talking to someone through a hotdog cellphone, being able to time travel back in time to create an incident which would later save your life at the very instant you are about to die and finally, fighting a monster made of deli meats, those are the moments where you will be constantly at odds with whether or not you actually know what is going on. The film isn't difficult to follow, it just tries really hard at being extremely clever and every time it does this, it feels as though it is going off the rails. Even the title itself is setting you up to fail if you take it at face value.

Ultimately the film is entertaining despite its many attempts to derail itself. Dave and John make for an acceptable pair of heroes and the many bizarre occurrences in their world makes for some interesting diversions on the road to saving the planet. It may take you a couple of viewings to be able to fully embrace it for all the reasons you will probably hate it for the first time you see it, but this is a journey well worth taking, just lay off the soy sauce until its over.





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