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John Dies at the End
A drug with the innocent name of “Soy Sauce” is the start of a whole bunch of weird trouble for Dave Wong and his friend John. Adapted from the novel of the same name, to which David Wong just released a sequel, John Dies at the End messes with the audience non-stop. Some characters look different to both Dave and John, and also there are some things that only certain people can see. Mostly because they’re on the Soy Sauce, which opens up the mind to other dimensions and shows them things they probably wish they’d never seen. We see the world through the eyes of Dave, so we see what he does, but it’s interesting to note when John sees things differently.
Adapting the novel couldn’t have been an easy task at all. The plot is more convoluted than the film version could ever make work and stay at a manageable length, and there’s a lot in the book that probably just wasn’t filmable for one reason or another. While movie audiences and book lovers both know all about the issues of converting books to the screen, I think this is one adaptation that works well given the time and budget constraints. While the movie is low budget, I’m not sure more money would’ve made for a better film. John and Dave’s experiences are not supposed to look completely normal or as if they fit into our reality, and seamless CGI might have actually detracted from the unrealistic feel the movie should have.
I definitely liked the meat monster, and Korrok, while definitely looking computer generated, was still frightening when it devoured people that fell into it.
The film does a great job of presenting us with the weird and wild world that John and Dave inhabit without making it too hard for people unfamiliar with the novel to know what’s going on. But I say that as someone who read the novel before watching the movie, so I can’t honestly tell you that if you’ve never read the book the movie won’t end up being confusing.
I think Korrok could’ve been better developed. I feel like some of the clues and manifestations that were left out could’ve really helped make the end of the movie more impactful. They could’ve done a lot more with Amy in this regard, because she ends up having some of the best clues as to what’s going on, and she’s an underused character in the movie, which seems to be trying to keep the film more of a buddy picture.
There’s a few inconsistencies in the movie, especially with Bark Lee, who seems to jump in and out of scenes and is completely forgotten by the characters until they need him. This could be just part of the weird world that John and Dave travel in, but I think there’s also some times when it ends up being a continuity error. It’s not something that bothered me during the movie, but I noticed it.
John Dies at the End isn’t for everyone, it’s a little crazy and disjointed, and stuff that happens doesn’t always make sense or have a good and final resolution. I’m thinking specifically of Roger North, who gets a short amount of screen time and not really a lot of explanation. Doug Jones does a great job as North, but I feel like the movie missed an opportunity to explain what was going on and the scene happens and they don’t ever mention anything about it again. The only part that stays is the slug thing, which Dave steps on in the first scene and then again later on.
If you’re looking for a wild ride that’s one part horror, one part comedy, then check out John Dies at the End on VOD. There are limited screenings playing as well, so check with your favorite movie theater chain to find them.