John Dies at the End

A new year and what better way to start it off by reviewing a film that really can't be reviewed.

Based off the book of the same title, the story follows friends David Wong (Chase Williamson) and John Cheese (Rob Mayes) who accidentally stumble upon a drug nicknamed "Soy Sauce". During a party, David meets with Robert Marley (Tai Bennett) who is able to read David's mind and even tell him what his last dream was. David eventually finds that Robert has been using the "Soy Sauce" to enhance his mind, which John now has in his system.

David believes John is only under the influence of a street drug, until he is accidentally injected with the "Soy Sauce" as well. Soon, David and John are on the run from local detective Appleton (Glynn Turman) and  wannabe street thugs while also uncovering a massive, worldwide conspiracy where the "Soy Sauce" is the mitigating factor. A monster made from cold cuts, penis doorknobs, parallel dimensions and the appearances of Clancy Brown and Angus Scrimm only begin to scratch the surface of the plot.

The film is told in flashback by David to reporter Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) who acts as the viewer. Arnie has no idea what is going on and continuously doubts the story that David is presenting to him. As the story progresses, Arnie begins to believe the story, but logic still continues to elude the film.

The lack of logic is not a bad thing in a film like this, as never once was I bored. In the first half, especially, a manic energy fuels the film even if you have only a vague semblance of what the plot is. Even with an obvious lack of budget, director Don Coscarelli, gives it his all and provides a film with the energy that a 1980's Sam Raimi would have provided.

Unfortunately, the second half of the film begins to run out of steam. We begin to move towards a resolution of the plot and the energy is more focused on wrapping up the story than entertaining the audience. There is only so much wackiness that can occur before the film wears out its welcome and the entertainment value dwindles.

Don Coscarelli and his cast do give it their all, showing that even making this film was a total team effort. I have not read the book this film was based on, but from what I have heard, the book is even more wackier than what is in the film. This is obvious, as the film version already feels longer than it should. I guess a faithful adaptation of what sounds like an unfilmmable book is too far out of the equation. Based on what the book sounds like, this is close and should be considered a miracle that a film like this was able to see the light of day.

This film is a mixed bag, but the overall energy and wackiness of it makes it easy to recommend checking out at least once.


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