[John Dies At The End]
Synopsis:Based on the novel by David Wong where a new drug hits the streets which promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce, and users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity?

Cast:Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Angus Scrimm, Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Doug Jones, Glynn Turman, Daniel Roebuck.

My Thoughts:Something vibrant and new on the indie scene.

Review:I wasn't very certain as of what to expect when going into seeing Don Coscarelli's horror flick, "John Dies At The End". The film is based off of the David Wong novel of the same name from David Wong. The book follows a new drug that hits the street called "Soy Sauce". The drug, like any new drug...quickly gains a fan base among the younger crowd. Except that those who've used it, leave this world and don't return. Others who do...return as otherworldly monsters.

Who are damn near un-killable, and extremely dangerous. As well quite gross, as the movie points out many times in certain scenes. The latest victims of this drug are John and David. John ends up ingesting the drug, but David doesn't. Now...David has to save him, and mankind as well. From a mysterious threat from another dimension. I have to admit, this movie did a pretty decent job adapting from the book. And further more as an indie horror picture. Bringing something new and vibrant to the table. The picture is helped in its cinematic quest by some talented actors, including Paul Giamatti, Angus Scrimm, Clancy Brown, and Doug Jones.

All are not only veteran actors. But steeples of the genre as well. Brown, Scrimm, and Jones in particular. Coscarelli really managed to assemble a pretty awesome cast for this movie. And even at the films weakest moments. Where it sometimes gets lost in its own story, the acting manages to carry it until it finds its way back on track. The movie can really be described as..."A 100-minute acid trip".

And you can clearly see the "Phantasm" influences in this film, in the terms of alternate universe, inter-dimensional travel, creatures from other worlds, and the like. Except this movie is handled more as a comedy, and there's no real terror, scares, or creepiness elements here. From start to finish, this film makes it its sole purpose to freak out the viewer with some weird, and outrageous sequences ranging from body parts with a life of their own. To living mustaches!

The films main characters John and David tow the dangerous line in movies like these. The line of being interesting and likeable leads, but who also don't come off as douchebags, or hyper obnoxious or annoying. They succeed in this endeavor, and are also aided by a female friend in the movie. Who doesn't get a lot of screen time, but who gets just enough to push the films story along. As a horror/scifi movie, "John Dies At The End" injects all of the usual cliches of the sub-genre such as undercover agents, conspiracy theories, shady reporters, and the like. But it's handled in a fun and entertaining way.
Where it doesn't feel rehashed or overdone. But in some ways, feels reinvented and tweaked to perfection. Coscarelli's films are also known for being gory more than anything. And "JDATE" doesn't disappoint in that area. It's moreso a gory movie rather than a super bloody flick. Although there are bloody moments in the film, the pic focuses more on creature gore, slime, and that sort of thing. There's a lot to like about this movie in terms of keeping things fresh and entertaining as well.

Just when you think you've seen everything, this film throws something new and shocking at you. One of which includes an "unlikely" rescue by an even "unlikelier" hero. And I also liked how the overall creature and visual fx were handled in this movie. Being an indie, there's not a ton of cash to spend on a project like this. But for straight-to-dvd/video-on-demand...this films effects were handled very evenly, nicely, and visually effective. If there's one place where the pic shows signs of weakness, it's getting a bit too chatty and hokey near the conclusion.

Which is where our heroes John and David venture into an alternate dimension in order to confront the "soy sauce" threat head on. But considering their situation at this point in the movie, it's not like they have much of a choice. As things have gone from bad to whatever comes after "worse"! At this point in the movie, I felt sending it home strong would've been a better idea. But instead, the film tries to pile in a few more weird character ideas and plot twists before finishing up. I thought the flow of the movie was somewhat disrupted by this. Not enough to fully damage the film. But the finale wasn't as flawlessly handled as I had hoped it'd be.

And this includes the final scene, which seems to suggest a possibly sinister or shocking ending. But instead, again takes a "softer" route. Still...all, in all, "John Dies At The End" is a breath of fresh air in an indie horror market that includes terrible slasher films, and ghost movies that are worse than the ones released the previous Tuesday. The film brings in some new ideas, fresh characters, and a cool sembleance of weird, schlocky, 80's sci-fi/horror that isn't seen very often in today's horror cinema. Overall, it's an enjoyable genre feature!

THE GOOD:This film took me back to a time of those weird 80's to late 80's horror/sci-fi films that you'd see on Cinemax late at night. The flick has a "Terrorvision" vibe to it. Very cool. The characters were likeable, and the creatures were as weird and as gross as they should be in a picture like this. Good performances by vets Brown as a "vanquisher of evil", Giamatti, and Scrimm also.

THE BAD:The finale tries to cram in a few more unnecessary ideas that apparently didn't fit into earlier parts of the movie. I thought the ending would've flowed better if they had kept it more simple.

OVERALL:Three stars out of four.

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