John Dies at the End

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But it’s Dave Wong (Chase Williamson) we meet at the beginning. The slacker white dude with the noticeably Asian last name—long story—is one half of a demon-fighting duo that has stumbled on an alterna-universe plot for global domination. That’s an even longer story, so good thing schlub journalist Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) is there in a leaden framing story to hear Dave out. We’d recap his otherworldly tale of woe if it made a lick of sense. Suffice to say it involves a hallucinogenic drug called “soy sauce”; Dave’s goof-off-in-arms best bud, John (Rob Mayes); and a race of beings who come from what one of our protagonists describes as “Eyes Wide Shut world.” (That’ll get you some reference-whore cred!)

If it’s not abundantly clear by now, this frenetic horror-comedy from Bubba Ho Tep’s Don Coscarelli is of the make-it-up-as-you-go-along school of storytelling. That’s appropriate considering that the film originated as a serialized Web novel, which surely had a go-for-broke energy on the page that is almost entirely lacking in this no-budget would-be cult item. Genre stalwart Clancy Brown and character actor extraordinaire Glynn Turman do some fine, funny supporting work as a slick psychic and an obsessive cop, respectively. But the “wackiness” (scare quotes included) is mostly ceaseless and tiresome, from the ravenous zombie neo-Nazi that leads things off to the Galaxy Quest rejects that figure in the movie’s annoyingly anticlimactic finale. Also, spoiler alert: That title’s a friggin’ lie, man!

Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich

Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday February 1 2013
Duration: 99 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Don Coscarelli
Screenwriter: Don Coscarelli
Cast: Chase Williamson
Rob Mayes
Paul Giamatti
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