I love Slipknot. I’ve loved nearly everything they put out, and been a fan since their first album. I’ve been to many of their concerts and seen their feuds with Mushroomhead, drummers doing the strangest things (see video), and love the combination of horror and metal.
I was at Mayhem Fest in 2012 (the concert in the video) and I had one of the most surreal experiences of my life. The show was great, and we had our tickets upgraded from lawn to pavilion. Unfortunately, the tickets were not together. Halfway through the show, my buddy texts me that we have an “in” to the after party. Unbelieving, I made other plans.
The show was awesome, and I found out what we had to do to get backstage. We had to buy light up devil horns from a certain vendor, go to a certain gate, and wait for the crowd to disperse. I wasted my money on a pair of light up devil horns, and I followed my friends. Long story short…it worked. It shouldn’t have, but it did. We partied with the bands (Slipknot, Anthrax, Slayer, Motorhead). I was left confused as to what just happened in a wooded (pitch black) parking lot at 3 am looking for my car.
John Dies At The End reminds me of that night. It’s filled with a random series of events that all converge in the right way for the heroes. It doesn’t quite make sense, but then again, it does. It’s the Matrix meets the Evil Dead.
The beginning scene of John Dies At The End is very reminiscent of Zombieland. The audience is told that the answer to the following riddle will reveal “the awful secret of the universe”: David beheads a zombie with an ax and breaks the handle. He replaces the handle, but then the head breaks later. He replaces the head, and the zombie (that he beheaded) returns and says “That’s the ax that slayed me.” Is he right?
And, thus, we begin the film.
David (Chase Williamson) is at a restaurant telling his story to a reporter (played by Paul Giamatti). The entire movie is told as a flashback. David first tells him about how he and his friend (John) helped a girl battle her abusive ex (and dead) boyfriend. We learn David has psychic powers due to this drug called Soy Sauce. He was pricked by a needle containing the stuff and his life made a dramatic change. Most of the movie focuses on these initial events as David wants to get his story out, but the reporter has trouble believing him.
The storyline to John Dies At The End is The Matrix of horror. David’s powers make him aware of the alternate realities out there, and give him special insight to the world and events around him. He can see into the future, and he can interact with the past. The writing and effects (especially the monster in the basement) have me longing for David Wong to write the (rumored) sequel to Army of Darkness as the movie plays like a sequel to the Evil Dead series. I loved it. There are some slow parts, but like Evil Dead, these are forgotten in the epic moments it presents.
The acting is ok, and this is not the type of movie you can play on your phone and watch simultaneously. Otherwise, you’ll be rewinding (like I was) over and over trying to figure out what just happened (It also helped that I couldn’t sleep and was watching this on low volume.). The gore is mostly CGI and it works sometimes. There’s other times that it doesn’t.
It is a fun movie though. Like my experience at Mayhem Fest, there are many memorable WTF moments. My favorite was how David was instructed how to escape the police station via a broken cell phone and a hot dog. The dog (Bark Lee) was an awesome addition to the story. It did a great job walking the line between horror and comedy, and found a perfect mix between the two.
If I took the movies The Matrix and Evil Dead, put them in a blender, and poured it out… John Dies At The End would be the result. It’s a great comedy/adventure that disguises itself as a horror movie and definitely worth a look. It is currently streaming on Netflix.