John Dies at the End | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

John Dies at the End

A quirky, mind-bending romp pitting slackers against mutated beings


From director Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep) comes this horror comedy, adapted from David Wong's book, about a pair of slackers trying to save the world from being overrun by weirdo beasties.

If, like me, you've not read book, the story is a little confusing — but then again, that's the point. Seriously. It helps to just be in the moment, story-wise, and not stress too much about assembling the pieces in the correct order. 

But it eventually boils down to this: A new drug nicknamed "soy sauce" is taking its users on trips through space and time. That's sort of cool, except some users are coming back as hideous mutant freaks. Also, soy sauce might also be a portal to another, more dangerous alternate reality. 

Fortunately, two users — Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes) — have escaped the worst of the drug's transformations (or have they?), and find themselves the largely self-appointed clean-up crew of the havoc soy sauce has wreaked. Among the troubles they face down: a gun-toting cop (The Wire's Glynn Turman), a man made of meat, giant spiders and slugs, and a freaky dude from another place (Doug Jones, from Pan's Labyrinth). Parts of this are re-told as Dave takes a meeting with a skeptical journalist (Paul Giamatti).

The low-budget, defiantly cultish film is full of jokes — from the easy toss-away involving a Jamaican dude named Robert Marley to the stupendously awesome set piece, the Mall of the Dead. It's sort of like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, dosed with psychedelics and mashed up with Evil Dead and Men in Black, and shown at midnight.

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