John Dies At The End


Out of body and out of mind

Writer/director Don Coscarelli has dedicated his life to whacked-out horror-fantasy flicks such as the Phantasm series, most of which could be comfortably filed under the label WTF.

And so it goes with the genre-bending John, adapted from the graphic novel by Jason Pargin, and sharing its off-kilter vibe with Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Stephen Sommers’ Odd Thomas.

The plot involves schoolfriends Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes) who take a pernicious drug called ‘Soy Sauce’ and have insane inter-dimensional adventures involving monsters made of meat, truck-driving dogs and Paul Giamatti.

Mostly you’ll be trying, like the characters, “to figure out what in the name of Elvis is going on”. But if you just lie back and give in, you’ll find the film drifts from wonderfully, deliriously weird to irritating then back again.

Combining the outre patter of a stoner comedy, the eyeball-popping practical SFX of splatter movies and bad sci-fi’s cheap CGI, it’s an intentionally cult confection. But as the beautiful Blu transfer and generous extras attest, Coscarelli and co really care about the material, even if you can’t quite join them.

The sense that anything could happen next is so all-pervading, it’s hard to raise an eyebrow when it actually does. Then again, the midnight movie crowd that constitute John’s core audience should be slightly past caring anyway.

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