January 24, 2012
Sundance Review: John Dies at the End
Where to begin...
My friend told me about the book, John Dies at the End awhile back. From what he told me, it sounded absolutely ridiculous, with other dimensions, psychotropic drugs, and two swell dudes who destroy demons by playing Guns n' Roses' "Sweet Child of Mine" really loud. And when I heard that Don Coscarelli, the director behind the positively loony Bubba Ho-Tep, was helming it, and he'd have the help of Paul Giamatti, I was in for the long run. And it was so worth the wait.
It's an awesome new drug that promises intense out of body experiences. On the street, they call it "Soy Sauce", and it will mess you up faster than whatever the dudes from The Hangover take. Unfortunately, this drug is the catalyst for a full bore demonic invasion. The world needs a hero to stop the onslaught. What it gets instead is John and Dave, two losers who "specialize" in this kind of field, or, they would, if they weren't so confused by everything going on around them. Can these two save the world and drive back the legions of hell? The odds are not good.
This movie is... strange. It's out of whack. It's unapologetically batshit crazy! The script, also by Coscarelli, is loopy, hilarious, fast paced, and very well written. So much insane shit happens, you can't even believe that some it is real.
John and Dave investigate a house, looking for a zombie. The girl who called them dissolves into snakes, trapping them in the basement. When they try to get out, the doorknob turns into a penis. Then, meat from the freezer animates and forms some sort of abomination. So, John and Dave call a world renowned paranormal showman and have him kill the monster over the phone.
That's only the first five minutes. The whole movie is that, but even nuttier!
The cast, comprised of mostly unknowns with a few big names thrown in, all performs great. Chase Williamson is fantastic as Dave, as is Rob Mayes as his best friend John. Glynn Turner is an inspired lunatic as Detective Lawrence "Morgan Freeman" Appleton, and Clancy Brown channels the most egotistical stage performer like a champ.
Paul Giamatti, for all the press he's been getting, only has a small percentage of screen time, but it's a memorable percentage. And Doug Jones is supremely creepy as a dude that can only be seen when tripping on "Soy Sauce".
The direction is all kinds of all over the place, making you really feel as if you're tripping yourself. The script is witty and hilarious. The acting is awesome. Midnight was made for movies like this!