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Review: ‘John Dies At The End’

Nothing Is As It Seems

Chase Williamson stars as David Wong in the mind-bending

Credit: Magnet Releasing

Above: Chase Williamson stars as David Wong in the mind-bending "John Dies at the End."

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "John Dies at the End"


John Dies at the End” was written as a webserial in 2001. It has now been made into a movie that opens today at Landmark’s Hillcrest Cinemas. It is destined to be a cult hit.

“John Dies at the End” should carry a drug label warning: caution consumption of this film may induce hallucinations, impair your ability to see the world as you once did, and cause outbursts of uncontrollable laughter.

This film is a throwback to mind-altering and genre-bending films like "Videodrome," and the literary works of Philip K. Dick and William S. Borroughs. But the tone is lightened by a pair of slacker dudes who seem only a few IQ points above Bill and Ted. The world needs saving but all it’s going to get are college dropouts John (Rob Mayes) and Dave (Chase Williamson). The cause of the impending apocalypse is a drug known as soy sauce. It endows users with a freaky clairvoyance and the ability to drift through time and space… it can also transform them into alien beings.

Director Don Coscarelli gave us "Phantasm" and "Bubba Ho-Tep," a pair of cult gems. He displays his supreme originality yet again with "John Dies at the End." What’s great is that Coscarelli takes an absurd premise, presents it as perfectly plausible, and along the way considers serious ideas without ever taking himself too seriously.

So fasten your seatbelts for the delirious high of "John Dies at the End" (rated R for bloody violence and gore, nudity, language and drug content).

Companion viewing: "A Scanner Darkly," "Videodrome," "Altered States," "Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai"

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