John Dies In The End (2012)

Posted: March 31, 2013 in Movies

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As one of the better online writers (and now senior editor at cracked.com), David Wong (real name: Jason Pargin) has been spinning his style of comedic horror for quite a while. The culmination of this was the book John Dies In The End back in 2007. On first pressing, the majority of normal people in the world pretty much ignored the book – but for those that were open-minded to the strange, creative style of Pargin, a genius was born. It took a while for it to catch on (a second pressing wasn’t issued until late 2009), but as word of mouth spread, more people became aware of what is now considered one of the best alternative writings of our time.

Most good books end up being made into a movie, and John Dies In The End is no exception. Last year, film festivals all over the country showcased the adaptation and critics – for the most part – seemed impressed by the screenings. I didn’t get the opportunity to see the film on its release, but have had it on my radar for a while, knowing that if it was even half as good as the book, a cult classic would be born.

The story unfolds as David Wong (played by Chase Williamson) sits with reporter Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) and narrates the happenings of the last two years in hopes of getting his story published. And what a story it is. Wong, along with his best friend John Cheese, encounter a strange, clairvoyant Jamaican at a late-night alcohol soaked party. David is skeptical to his so-called “magic”, but John – the more absent-minded of the two – is not only drawn in to the his mystery, but is convinced to inject a black narcotic known simply as “soy sauce.”

At first, the drug appears to simply be a hallucinogen – as John seems to be having a “bad trip”, but after accidentally being pricked with the contaminant, David slowly begins to realize there are far more after-effects then he ever could have imagined.

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At this point, the film does an amazing job taking reality and twisting it into something so imaginative and complex. At first you question whether what you are watching is really happening, or a side-effect of the “sauce”, but soon after you find yourself so drawn in that it doesn’t really matter. The story continues to evolve, with every dark laugh and visual shock, through a contorted, mind-altering world that feels completely disjointed, while remaining almost perfectly in line.

Magnet Releasing (who also distributed Rubber in 2011 – a film about a murderous, telekinetic tire) continues to push the boundaries of modern independent cinema, and John Dies… is no exception. While I think it fell a little short of the book, I found it to be a hilarious and occasionally icky story that should hit the sweet spot for people who like twisted movies and are fed up with the Hollywood assembly line.

Rated R – 139 Minutes

Available April 2nd on DVD and BluRay

IMDB: Here

Buy at Amazon: Here

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