Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"John Dies at the End": a real alternate universe might be more interesting without the drug trips

“John Dies at the End” is a film title that amounts to a forbidden spoiler, but maybe not exactly.  The film was around Landmark Theaters, from Magnolia and Magnet, late last winter and went to instant play and DVD quickly. It is directed by David Coascarelli and based on David Wong’s novel.

Chase Williamson plays David, and takes on a robust, conventionally clean-cut Caucasian appearance.  Apparently he had taken on the name as part of a ruse.  He’s really into the “out there” with his friend John (Rob Mayes), also clean cut.   Both are college dropouts and don’t have the edge on inventing another Facebook.  Paul Giamatti plays the reporter Arnie Blondestone, and is as out of it as everyone else.  He is perhaps a “could soul” with a chick pea brain containing is levels of reality (or dreams). 

All these friends are into a new street drug; people who use it may come back no longer human.  It seems that’s the “alien’s” way of making their divine invasion, to get everybody stoned.  Social conservatives will love the premise.

There’s plenty of racy monsters and decapitations and limbs rolling, but John and David (like in the Bible) always look unscathed; they never quite “get it”, even at the end. But the intermediate scenes reminded me of the drug monsters of "Naked Lunch". 
The most interesting part of the film is the last third, when the crew passes through an invisible door (a girl takes off her arm to open it) to an alternate universe, where technology took a different course a century ago, and computers, like master-mind Korrok, became organic (a pretty common sci-fi theme).  The colors in this world are different – maybe it really is on a smaller planet around a smaller star (like a red dwarf).  The women are nude, but the men are not, and the head honcho wears a Groucho-like mask.

I had purchased a Blu Ray disk at Best Buy, and it kept stalling and playing slowly throughout the DVD.  From what I found out online, I need a firmware update to my two-year-old Samsung, and I’m not set up to do it.  So I “cheated” and watched it on Netflix Instant play from the point it started stalling (about 20 minutes in).  It’s probably easier to get a small new BluRay unit for my latest laptop than it is to mess around with an older player; the DVD will have a lot of extras.  I’ll report on that here when I get the technical problem solved.
The official site is here.


The dark comedy-horror genre here may have gotten in the way of presenting a more interesting theory about other worlds and alternative universes.   Clive Barker’s novel “Imajica” does that and it needs to become a movie.  I’m surprised it hasn’t yet. 

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