This is not your grandfather’s soy sauce. The Soy Sauce in John Dies at the End is a street drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. These experiences are so out of body, that some users who come back are no longer human. Their bodies become the vehicles for an alien invasion and suddenly mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John (Rob Mayes) and David (Chase Williamson), a pair of college dropouts that can barely hold down jobs.
Adapted from David Wong’s trans-genre horror novel, John Dies at the End is written and directed by Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep) and also stars Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption), Glynn Turman (House of Lies) and Paul Giamatti (Sideways). Giamatti is also executive producer.
I was drawn to see this film, not by Soy Sauce, but because of Coscarelli’s previous film, Bubba Ho-Tep. Before seeing Bubba Ho-Tep, I thought that it would be really stupid and corny, but I’m a Bruce Campbell fan, so I watched it anyway. I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the film for a variety of reasons. So, in approaching John Dies at the End, I had high hopes.
I wasn’t disappointed. What sets this film apart from the Syfy made-for-TV movie it sounds like is Coscarelli’s twisted, maniacal vision – a description I think he’d like. John Dies At The End is Bevis and Butthead meets Ghostbusters, filtered through the minds of George A. Romero, Bryan Singer and M. Night Shyamalan. (Someone should check; Coscarelli may have these directors locked in his basement, only feeding them when they send up script ideas.)
What Coscarelli has done shouldn’t work, but it does. Despite the craziness, he keeps you involved with the characters and caring about the resolution to the problem. There is only one spot towards the end where the story tends to drag and is a bit expository, but, on the other hand, those scenes are full of topless women.