Indie. Passion. Art. Music.
There are things we just have to accept as humans. Sorry everyone, but Pluto is no longer a planet, there’s no such thing as a benevolent fascist state, and not all books should be turned into movies. Sandman by Neil Gaiman has basically been in development hell since the 90s . House of Leaves is just begging to be made, but let’s face it, that’s not gonna happen, ever. And for the most part Watchmen was critically panned as well as largely ignored by its fanbase. What do these three works have in common? Dense narratives, moral grey areas that ask more questions than they answer, and all are largely celebrated as great examples of modern literature that would be nigh impossible to film. What does this have to do with John Dies at the End? To put it simply everything.
John Dies at the End is a prime example of a film that is not as imaginative as the source material from which it was spawned. And now stands as another example of an adaptation that didn’t need to be made. The pacing was decent in that the story kept you going, and was mysterious enough to warrant wanting to unravel the threads and connect the pieces. There were points that were boring and you start wondering when the action will start taking place again. However through and through the movie kept on chugging.
And speaking of the story. A multi-narrative flashback, in the form of an interview, which also jumps around chronologically is kind of a tough sell for a film. And sadly Mr. Corscarelli didn’t really seem up to the task more often than not. See John Dies at the End tells the story of a drug which basically grants users with special powers (see Limitless combined with From Beyond ) such as the ability to see into other dimensions, possessing vast impossible knowledge, creating hyper intelligent dogs, etc. Basically, the problem is the users of this drug end up dying very messily. Couple this fact with alternate realities, weird extra-dimensional infestations, other paranormal shenanigans, and you have a rough outline for the plot of the movie.
The performances were passable the two leads were generally charming, but the other characters performance’s including Giamatti felt largely phoned in. The writing was okay, but the delivery of the jokes often fell flat. But even these issues were not as egregious as my biggest gripes with the film.
So this is the part that sucks, and I’d hate to trash an indie production but ambition is one part willful resistance in the face of challenges, and the other part is keen awareness of your limitations. So you can see where I’m going with this; John Dies has some of the worst CGI this side of The Sleep Center of the Southwest. The final monster looked like a PS1 era boss as opposed to an Eldritch abomination. Believe me when I say this but I make it a conscious effort to not use texting lingo so I won’t but I will say major facepalm to the effects and editing department.
The other issue I had with the film is for the most part there were some creepy elements missing such as the congregation of shadow men not to mention the spider things which except in a few places were missing in action, the mall shooting sequence was also conspicuously absent as well. And in general it just really felt like Don didn’t even try to make the movie creepy, which was something the book was really great at being. Say what you will about the source material for this film but Jason Pargin (author of the book ) did an excellent job of creating a palpable sense of dread throughout, while interjecting what could best be described as gallows humor.
So that covers the film. To say I was majorly disappointed in the film would be an understatement. What should have been one of the most original horror films in years ends up being a hatchet job at best, and a boring, tepid, neutered creature in dire need of euthanasia at worst.
Overall Score: 1.5/5
Wack, lame, snooze-fest, sleep-enhancer. You pick an adjective for sucky and boring, and basically that is the gist of it.
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