Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: John Dies at the End

Horror-comedy from Phantasm director starts with a bang but quickly loses speed.

Jan 23, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1370758-John_Dies_End_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A supernatural action comedy that can never live up to its exciting opening scenes, Don Coscarelli's John Dies at the End mixes horror-tinged mayhem with smart-aleck laughs but loses momentum early and gets bogged down in exposition. The director's culty track record (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) may draw a small audience to theatres, but the pic will quickly be courting genre die-hards on home-video.

Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes play Dave and John, twenty-somethings introduced to a gooey, mind-altering substance, dubbed soy sauce, that frees them from the space-time continuum and allows them to read others' minds. It's not all fun and party tricks, though: Taking the stuff makes them targets for all manner of icky, slithering beasts and interdimensional gnat swarms, only some of which are easy to squash. Attacks from these critters lend themselves to Sam Raimi-ish camera moves, though Coscarelli isn't as good as the Evil Dead director at making viewers laugh throughout a grisly life-or-death encounter.

The main story is told in flashback, as Dave narrates to a newspaper reporter played by Paul Giamatti. While Giamatti brings welcome charisma to the cast, the framing device takes some air out of the story and leads viewers to expect a more clever overarching narrative than we actually get.

The movie's look is appealingly garish, and its effects work will please genre buffs, blending CGI with old-school techniques to good, tongue-in-cheek effect. But what first looks like a quirkier, gorier Men in Black lacks that film's coherence and doesn't compensate with fresh ideas. Twenty years ago, John Dies might have easily drawn a devoted following; today, Coscarelli has a couple of generations of genre-savvy filmmakers to compete with.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: John Dies at the End

Horror-comedy from Phantasm director starts with a bang but quickly loses speed.

Jan 23, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1370758-John_Dies_End_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A supernatural action comedy that can never live up to its exciting opening scenes, Don Coscarelli's John Dies at the End mixes horror-tinged mayhem with smart-aleck laughs but loses momentum early and gets bogged down in exposition. The director's culty track record (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) may draw a small audience to theatres, but the pic will quickly be courting genre die-hards on home-video.

Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes play Dave and John, twenty-somethings introduced to a gooey, mind-altering substance, dubbed soy sauce, that frees them from the space-time continuum and allows them to read others' minds. It's not all fun and party tricks, though: Taking the stuff makes them targets for all manner of icky, slithering beasts and interdimensional gnat swarms, only some of which are easy to squash. Attacks from these critters lend themselves to Sam Raimi-ish camera moves, though Coscarelli isn't as good as the Evil Dead director at making viewers laugh throughout a grisly life-or-death encounter.

The main story is told in flashback, as Dave narrates to a newspaper reporter played by Paul Giamatti. While Giamatti brings welcome charisma to the cast, the framing device takes some air out of the story and leads viewers to expect a more clever overarching narrative than we actually get.

The movie's look is appealingly garish, and its effects work will please genre buffs, blending CGI with old-school techniques to good, tongue-in-cheek effect. But what first looks like a quirkier, gorier Men in Black lacks that film's coherence and doesn't compensate with fresh ideas. Twenty years ago, John Dies might have easily drawn a devoted following; today, Coscarelli has a couple of generations of genre-savvy filmmakers to compete with.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Momo
Film Review: Letter to Momo

Literally beset by goblins, this strained animated effort should have concentrated on the human elements of its story rather than the supernatural. More »

A Master Builder
Film Review: A Master Builder

A personal project which should have stayed personal, this turgid yet flat Ibsen adaptation is third-time unlucky for Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. More »

Fanny
Film Review: Fanny

"Classic" is a word all too casually bandied about, but for Daniel Auteuil's screen adaptation of this beloved French trilogy it is completely apropos. More »

Alive Inside
Film Review: Alive Inside

Incredibly moving and powerful documentary about combatting Alzheimer's with music. Without the use of a single CGI effect, you see literal miracles happening here. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sex Tape review
Film Review: Sex Tape

Couple's homemade porn circulates on the web in an R-rated comedy that wastes the talents of its stars. More »

The Purge: Anarchy
Film Review: The Purge: Anarchy

A modest but noticeable improvement on its predecessor, The Purge: Anarchy offers a more effective—if still far from ideal—realization of the series' killer premise. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here