John Dies At The End [Celluloid Hero]
John Dies At The End (2012)
I'm a big fan of Cracked.com, and "John Dies At The End" began as a novel by Cracked columnist David Wong. Wong isn't my favorite of the Cracked writers, but when he first published his book, I read a long excerpt online and enjoyed it. The storytelling was erratic, dark and funny. I still haven't gotten around to reading the entire book, but I definitely wanted to check out the movie adaptation.
The entire movie is a flashback, with our "hero" David Wong telling his story to a reporter, played by Paul Giamatti. We learn about a new drug called Soy Sauce that seemingly gives the user the ability to alter time and space. David's friend John takes the first dose and a series of insane events follow. People die, those dead people come back, people explode, dogs talk, there is some sort of parallel universe full of naked people. It's a complete trip, and the question is always whether things are real, a hallucination, or if the drug really does give the user some strange powers.
The plot and script were a lot of fun, and most of the acting fit the characters perfectly. Paul Giamatti is one of my favorite actors; he always manages to lose himself in a character but still keep a common thread of Giamatti-ness through them all. The rest of the cast is mostly unknowns, mixed in with a few "I've see that guy somewhere before" faces. The fact that the rest of the cast isn't famous fits well, and keeps the characters fresh. Instead of trying to believe some A-list actor is high on a mysterious drug, it's more believable that these users are just some guy you went to school with.
The directing and visuals really make the movie. A lot of movies struggle to depict the point-of-view of a person who is high. "John Dies" does a damn good job of showing hallucinations, and also takes advantage of using a fictional drug, therefore being to apply any side effects it wants. When you're working from scratch, you don't have to worry about being called out for an inaccuracy. Also, despite being relatively low-budget, the movie looks fantastic. There are loads of CGI along with a lot of traditional effects, impressive sets, and a very clean polished look for a dirty movie.
Some people may be turned off by the gore and violence and drug use, but if you can handle that, it's definitely worth a watch. Wong wrote a sequel novel, and there are rumors that it too will be turned into a movie. I'll be looking forward to that.