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'John Dies at the End' review: Comes pre-spoiled!

ObituariesMoviesPaul GiamattiGregg ArakiRichard KellyDon Coscarelli

*1/2 (out of four)

A midnight movie that makes you wish you went to bed early, “John Dies at the End” falls into the no-man’s-land of movies you may need to be high to enjoy, but can barely follow when sober.

Throughout “John,” Dave (Chase Williamson) tells a newspaper reporter (Paul Giamatti) about the recent adventure in which Dave and his friend John (Rob Mayes) confront a bizarre drug known as “soy sauce.” He also describes an alien infestation that may or may not involve portals to other universes and random obnoxiousness from vaguely defined characters.

Adapting David Wong’s novel, writer-director Don Coscarelli (the superior “Bubba Ho-Tep”) aims for trippy but has almost nothing cool or fun to work with. “John Dies at the End” may be consistently weird, but it’s less like a unique vision of dark mysteries than the movie Richard Kelly (“Donnie Darko”) or Gregg Araki (“Kaboom”) might make if their talent took some time off.

The oddities in “John” occasionally earn a chuckle, but most of the film’s attitude is purely tiresome, from the visual gimmicks (Whoa, Dave’s talking into a bratwurst!) to dialogue like, “I want to shoot you so bad my dick’s hard.” Even those who delight in films that are desperate to be instant cult classics have to admit “John Dies at the End” is all condiments and no meat.

Arguably the strangest thing about this movie, though, is that the title’s acronym is JDATE—something the dating site is, well, unlikely to embrace.

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mpais@tribune.com

 

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ObituariesMoviesPaul GiamattiGregg ArakiRichard KellyDon Coscarelli
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