“John Dies At The End” is a pretty weird and fun novel, by David Wong, and now it’s a pretty weird and fun movie, written and directed by Don Coscarelli (“Bubba Ho-Tep”). It’s all about the soy sauce. And a dog that can read your mind. And a monster made out of all your favorite meat products. While this may sound all non sequitur to you, oh, there is quite a logic behind this very strange horror movie. And Paul Giamatti! You need to know this. Paul Giamatti is in this movie! This is true. And he has a vital role. He sort of provides the glue, or meat glue, that binds everything together.
What this movie is and what this movie isn’t are two important distinctions. Let’s consider what this movie is, first. It is a gory joy ride. It is character driven, like, the two college dropouts John and David, played by Rob Mayes and Chase Williamson, that keep things moving as they discover the end of the world is nigh. And it won’t put you to sleep. That’s a guarantee. What it’s not. It’s not an Academy Award winner, not even a nominee. But we don’t need no stinking awards. Although it may win a ton of horror movie awards, if they count. In the end, it could end up considered to be an offbeat cult favorite, sort of like “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension,” if that was a horror movie.
It’s not easy to mix comedy with horror, and maintain that knowing smirk as blood is splattered all over the place. Some purists might even say, when horror and comedy mix, it’s no longer horror. Few movie nerds have yet to get over the John Landis horror comedy, “An American Werewolf in London.” But, what can one say, that movie is a classic and it gets a very high Rotten Tomato Reader rating. It too features two young puds way above their heads. Yikes, it even won an Oscar. For special effects, that is, which were, and still are, amazing and became the gold standard for how to depict a pud turning into a werewolf. In the case of “John Dies,” the humor is so low key and cool that is seeps right into the goop of the horror. There’s one scene with a detective turned vigilante that comes to mind. He has gone from sensible to demented and it fits right in with the tone of this movie. You know what, we could even say that the tone is similar to something like the Coen Brother’s “Blood Simple,” where the humor is dialed back. That may be too much high praise for this movie but it’s in the ball park.
“John Dies At The End” is available now on VOD and opens in theaters on January 25, 2013. You can see it now on iTunes and at Amazon. Visit Magnolia Pictures for a listing of theater play dates here. And you can see a trailer here.