Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

John Dies at the End


No, not me, another John. The reason this interested me is that it was directed by Don Coscarelli, who also directed one of my favorite small, sleeper movies, Bubba Ho-Tep. That one was written by my favorite gonzo writer, Joe R. Lansdale, an East Texas boy like myself. This one was scripted by Coscarelli and based on a book by David Wong, which is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, who has been a staff writer for Why he wanted a pen name I have no idea. (Later: The narrating character is named David Wong.)

Well, you win some, you lose some. It started out confusing, with zombies and assorted monsters popping up here and there, and then settled down into a conversation between Dave (Chase Williamson) and Paul Giamatti in a Chinese restaurant, where Dave demonstrates some extraordinary mental and/or psychic talents. Then we go to flashback, concerning a drug called “soy sauce,” a thick black substance that seems to be alive. For a while there it gets interesting, with Dave getting phone calls from his friend John (Rob Mayes) that John hasn’t made yet. (John actually dies somewhere in the middle, not the end, but just won’t stay dead.) Soon I had to struggle to stay involved in the intricacies of the plot, and not long after that I lost interest, as I strongly suspected the director had abandoned any attempt to maintain any consistency among the various CGI monsters and alternate universes and people who were dead or not. It floundered its way to the end in a large display of mayhem, and then there was a tacked-on ending that actually ran during the closing credits. With a little more care and skull sweat on the plot this could have been interesting. What we have here, though, is just a mess.