Macabre...ish Horror Review: John Dies At The End
John Dies At The End, 2012/ 1 hr 39 min.
David Wong (Chase Williamson) cuts up a dead man with an axe, he didn’t kill him but this needed to be done. A year later, the same guy does exactly as expected and with a new head, crudely sewn on with weed eater line, he’s standing at Dave’s front door.
David’s been dosing with a drug known as soy sauce.
He meet’s a journalist named Arnie (Paul Giamatti) for a meeting to tell his story and what a story! As expected, Arnie does not believe most of it.
The day before, Dave gets a call from John (Rob Mayes) to come over, armed and with beer, he speaks in code. Upon arriving, a woman, Shelly Morris (Allison Weissman), is there, and claims her boyfriend won’t stop stalking her plus he’s been dead for two months. She has come for David and John’s help, she heard around town that they might he able too.
So they go to her house and check out her basement, it’s the last place she says she heard him. They do not find a walking corpse there but there is a freezer filled to the brim with unwrapped meat. While talking, they discover that they see different versions of Shelly, when confronted, she crumbles into a mass of snakes.
The meat in the freezer then becomes animated and frees itself from the freezer and articulates into a giant meat monster. The monster believes they are it’s nemesis, Dr. Marconi (Clancy Brown), a tv spiritualist. They are not. So Dave calls Marconi and hands the meat monster the phone and he precedes to be exorcised and falls apart.
Back at the restaurant, Dave is continuing to try to prove to Arnie that he’s telling the true but only manages to freak him out more. But Arnie is really listening now…
The story really begins two years ago at an outdoor rave. Dave meets up with some friends, John, Fred (Jimmy Wong) and Amy (Fabianne Therese), she’s an amputee. They meet a man who provides the party favors, Robert Marley (Tai Bennett) and he’s doing party tricks no one’s ever seen before. He proves that his gifts are real by guessing Dave’s dream correctly. Dave is stunned but trying to play it cool.
David gets in his car to leave and Amy’s dog, Bark Lee jumps in with him, he uses it as a reason to reconnect with Amy, later.
Meanwhile, John gets a scary call from Dave telling him to come over and he does, only it wasn’t Dave. When Dave sees John, he’s manic. His place is torn up and he’s terrified. John is babbling incoherently about phone calls and Dave understands none of it. A syringe with a black substance in it, is on the table. That drug is known as Soy Sauce and he got it from Marley. John finally calms down later in the Dave’s regular hang out.
While sitting there across from John, he gets a call…from John and Dave is further creeped out but shrugs it off as it if it’s just a weird prank. On the way home, Dave is spooked and calls his Priest (Angus Scrimm) and while on the phone, he somehow stabs himself with the syringe in his pocket. Now the Priest is talking madness, after Dave hangs up and drives on, hands reach from the back seat, grabbing him, some kind of creature is put on his chest. The hands belong to Roger North (Doug Jones).
All the while, John is sound asleep in the passenger seat and Bark Lee is observing this strange conversation between Dave and the stranger. After a tussle and dislodging the creature from his chest. A detective (Glynn Turman) materializes next to the vehicle, halls Dave and John in, for questioning.
While being questioned, John realized he knows what the detective is going to say before he says it, word for word. Turns out, just about everyone at the rave who took the sauce is dead, except John, or so he believes. Everyone, including Robert Marley, the drug dealer.
Then cops enter and inform them that John is dead.
Arnie has questions about the drug. And he remembers seeing the rave deaths on the news. Arnie believes it but he thinks it’s a lot of theatrics but Dave has an ace up his sleeve or in his truck, rather. In a cage, it appears empty but it’s not and Arnie is about to see it. And a little too easily, I might add. What he sees scares the hell out of him. Dave begins to wonder how it’s possible that he saw it so easily and while sober.
John is about to find out a terrible truth about Arnie the journalist.
- But first back to the story…
John has just died of convulsions but when Dave’s phone rings, it’s John! And he seems to know everything that’s happening. He tells Dave to just leave, just walk away. None of it is real.
But before he can, a cop’s mustache rips itself off of his face and flies away, only returning to attack Dave. Then Dave accidentally tears off the man’s arm while fight him off. After which he leaves, still taking direction from John who continues to prove nothing is real and it’s because of the soy sauce.
John tells him the sauce is about to wear off and tells Dave to go to a trailer park to get more. There’s important info that Dave didn’t get because it’s wearing off and it nearly gets him killed. Suddenly, the detective who originally arrested him turns up. And he’s standing over him with a can of gasoline. He no longer cares what’s going on. He’s witnessed what the soy sauce does with his own eyes and he knows he won’t be believed and after a lot of explanation, he plans to cleanse it with fire, including David. But a strange fluke saves Dave’s life and he’s saved when Bark Lee drives his truck into the building.
Turns out, it’s John using Bark Lee. He says there are two people still alive from the rave, Justin (Johnny Weston) and Amy. But Justin is different, he’s actually a pod and he will spawn soon like a dandelion. And when he does, the Earth will be covered, people will be infected and life as we know it, will end, it’s happened before.
Later, Dave finds John with Amy, he’s in a hospital gown and apparently in a catatonic state (until Bark Lee touches him), they’re riding in the back of a liquor truck to get to an old abandoned mall. The place Justin is going to molt.
Again, the detective arrives and shoots Justin again then lights him on fire. All loaded in his car, the detective says there’s a buzzing in his head and his eyeball explodes, violently, out of his head. Tons of spores pour out of him and tries to get inside everyone near it, that they can.
Now Dave and John decide to go after the source and destroy it after burning the bodies of the infected. And Amy is the key to opening the door. Once inside, they’re not really surprised by what they find. But there is a weapon to kill the source and they have it.
Wrapping up the interview with Arnie and the story has a relatively hopeful ending. Dave does have physical evidence to prove his story real. But there is still something about Arnie and David figures it out pretty quickly before Arnie does. But inside, Arnie know. He knows…
This scifi/horror was directed and screen written by Don Coscarelli but based on the book by the same name by Jason Pargin, formerly David Wong. This is a very odd and off putting movie, it’s also somewhat bloody and gory. Expect strange creatures, monsters and aliens. The effects are mostly good and some of it is hilarious. This is also pretty violent. Good cast and likable characters. You never know what’s next and it can be hard to follow if you’re not paying attention. You’ll either like this movie or you won’t. I liked it very much!
P. S. Jason Pargin’s other books are This Book is Full of Spiders, What The Hell Did I Just Read, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick and If This Book Exists You’re In the Wrong Universe (2022).