Tuesday, May 07, 2013

John Dies at the End

I could've sworn this film was much older than it is; Wikipedia says it was only released in the US in December last year, but I swear I remember seeing the first trailer for it long before that. It still hasn't had a proper UK release, but the DCA had a preview screening last Friday as part of the Dundead horror festival thing.

I don't know what I was expecting, exactly, but John Dies at the End isn't it. It's one of those films where its component parts seem like a recipe for greatness, but it somehow never pulls everything together. It's brilliantly shot, the dialogue is sharp and brilliantly delivered, and it has a core idea - a narcotic drug called "soy sauce" that gives people clairvoyance and the ability to see and communicate with the dead - that's full of promise.

It never really goes anywhere though, at least metaphorically; the characters literally go to an alternate dimension at one point but it feels like an attempt to up the stakes in a conflict we've not heard much about. The film opens with a ghostbusting endeavour undertaken by the two main characters - unreliable narrator David and the eponymous John - but then jumps into flashback for its entire running time with their (for want of a better term) origin story.

I'd have preferred a full film of low-tech paranormal investigations. It might have been less original, but it couldn't have been less coherent.

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