John Dies at the End (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">John Dies at the End</strong> (2012)

(On DVD, June 2013) The beauty with quasi-cult films aimed at specific audience is that once in a while you are the target audience.  So it is that John Dies at the End blends science-fiction/horror influences with an irreverent lack of respect for otherworldly terrors, two very sympathetic protagonists and a dynamic blend of quick pacing and terrific direction.  Writer/director Don Coscarelli nails the quirky tone of David Wong’s source novel and delivers a near-unclassifiable film that nonetheless plays beautifully to genre audiences.  Often crude and unsubtle, John Dies at the End is nonetheless fairly sophisticated in the way it dares audiences to follow along a dense thicket of ideas, plot developments, dramatic turns and throwaway jokes.  It’s a film that moves quickly and doesn’t stop for people to catch up.  The first half is a dizzying accumulation of strangeness, while the second gets down to the sometimes fastidious task of explaining the plot and tying up loose ends.  Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes are good choices for the lead roles, but Paul Giamatti is near-perfect at the skeptical journalist hearing their story.  Best of all, perhaps, for fans of the novel is how the film is only a partial adaptation: the second half of the book is nearly missing from the film, an important half of the plot having been skillfully amputated.  This gives enough space for an already-madcap accumulation of details in the film, and leaves a pleasant surprise to fans of the film wishing to read the book. 

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