First Glimpse: John Dies at the End

Directed by Don Coscarelli

Release date: On Demand 27 December 2012; in theaters 3 February 2013

David Wong’s John Dies at the End wouldn’t be the most difficult novel to adapt into a screenplay (if you've read House of Leaves, you know that novel has the honor), but it’s pretty challenging. John’s plot centers around two friends and their encounter with a shady new street drug dubbed Soy Sauce. Soy Sauce will give you the mother of all bad trips and just might be a portal through which true evils are channeled. Veteran writer/director Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) has adapted stories before, but to say that the source material for John Dies at the End is a bit disjointed would be putting it lightly. Littered with slang, dark humor, twisted beasts, and pop culture reference, it’s a little bit dark, a little bit incoherent, and there’s a man made of cockroaches. It could be good, but getting the right mixture of disturbing and satire and yuck is a grim chemistry problem.

The second trailer for John has been released. Do yourself a favour and do not watch it. Or watch it, and then go back and watch the first one. Or just watch the second one. Hell, I don’t know what to think because somewhere after the first trailer was released (it looked appropriately dark with a suspicious Paul Giamatti and a man being hacked to pieces in the snow), the editing turn a sharp left turn and veered into goofy territory. I’m not sure if I am having a problem with it because I’m trying to force it into the box of what I wanted, or because the film cannot truly build a complicated world that was so vividly brought to life by the author. Leaving the obviously talented Coscarelli out of the equation, I would be hesitant to urge people to see this in theaters… I think it’s a craps shoot on whether anyone would be able to get the material to work right. Like H.P. Lovecraft’s works, I think the best medium to work with here isn't film, but imagination. I give it one uncertain thumb up based on the first trailer and good, old-fashioned hope.


By Kiki McGraw

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