Sunday, February 24, 2013

John Dies at the End [2012]

MPAA (R)  Chicago Sun-Times (2 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
Chicago Sun-Times (C. Schmidlin) review

John Dies at the End (screenplay and directed by Don Coscarelli based on the novel by David Wong) is an "indie" young adult oriented zombie/alien-invasion horror comedy about two friends Dave (played by Chase Williamson) and John (played by Rob Mayes) from somewhere in the United States who find themselves inadvertently opening the doors for an inter-dimensional alien invasion of earth, spending much of the movie trying really, really hard to close it.

How could two very average young 20-somethings from "anywhere USA" possibly mess-up so badly as to put the whole world in such peril?   Well after inviting journalist Arnie Blondestone (played by Paul Giamatti) to meet him in a random Chinese take-out restaurant somewhere in town, Dave explains to Arnie that "well there was this party ..." At this party (just like any other party...) there was this "young Jamaican dude" going by the name of Robert (Bob...) Marley (played by Tai Bennett) who had this "supply of pills" he called "the sauce."  Well these pills made one see things that one otherwise would never be to see.  The problem is ... that the things that one was suddenly able to see were actually quite real (and quite sneaky as they would shape-shift and so forth) and then really hungry/mean.  More to the point they came from another dimension and were bent on ravaging/destroying the earth.  Oh dear ...

From the party onward, Dave and his friend John had spent their time fighting an increasingly desperate battle of beating back this really odd alien invasion that only they and an otherwise very small group of people could see.  Strangely enough, the only person these beings from another dimension seemed to really fear was a white leisure suit clad Italian celebrity psychic named Dr. Albert Marconi (played by Clancy Brown) who could exorcise these inter-dimensional aliens and send them back to their world just by talking to them on the phone.  The rest of humanity either could not see these beings (until it was too late...) or somehow came to be "in league" with them.  The only other character who seemed to come around to believing the two's story was a Catholic school educated police detective (played by Glynn Turman) who despite initially disbelieving Dave and John's story when he first encountered them, nevertheless "came around" as the number of otherwise unexplainable happenings taking place the two 20-somethings mounted.  "I may not know much about these sort of things, but my Catholic school upbringing helps to know Evil when I see it," and so the detective joins the fight on Dave and John side.

It all makes for a goofy and at times "strange things going splat" sort of story.  But my sense is that a lot of young people and otherwise those with a somewhat "off" / "slacker" sense of humor would enjoy it.

Since we're still all here, it would appear that Dave and John "won" their battle ;-).

Finally the film may actually have something of an "edifying message" for young people by the end: Be careful what you try 'cause something that may seem innocuous enough could really, truly bring about (or at least bring you) "a world of pain."

Who would have thought that John's taking of a single pill would have (in Dave's own words to the journalist)  "opened the gates to the Apocalypse" ;-) gates that both Dave nor John were never really sure that they were able to close again. (And boy, were they really, really apologetic about that ;-)

This was one strange and often very funny film ;-).

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