Reviews: John Dies At The End
A review of the film and not the book
I haven't read the book. Yes, go on, lynch me now, but does it really matter? A film's got to stand on it's own, doesn't it? So, with that in mind, I've got to say the film didn't impress me. The few jokes the film has are mildly amusing at best, and what little horror there is comes from rather generic-looking bug things. So as a horror-comedy it's not particularly impressive. Removed from my expectations based on what I'd been told of the narrative's genre constraints, the plot is delightfully confusing, but good luck succeeding in piecing everything together—the film can't even manage that, with the rapid-fire reveals in the third act not explaining much and not trying to, instead setting up a completely new plot that's revolved swiftly. Much of this confusion isn't helped by the fact that things like the framing device and a quick jaunt two years beyond the narrative raise more questions than they answer, and turn out to be entirely superfluous. The characters aren't particularly interesting either, with our protagonists being snarky (David) and dudeish (John) and completely uncomplicated beyond that. So focusing on them in the hopes of a character arc to compensate for the lack of a narrative one is also kinda hopeless. The film raises some interesting ideas in the third act, and perhaps focusing on them instead of over-complicating the first two acts might've been beneficial. As it stands the film is disjointed and jumbled and ultimately disappointing, but kinda fun if you don't ask too much of it. It's interesting if nothing else.
Funny, Horrific, Slightly Confused
There is a pretty good litmus test to John Dies At The End: Do you think John Dies At The End is a good title? If so, the book mainly fills expectations. It's completely hilarious in a clever, meta, black comedy way. Also not above the grime of sewer jokes etc, but particularly towards the beginning there was so much energy and shock in the humour it's actually surprising read. It catches people up in it's lines and you're following the revelations and stori- Joke. In some ways it's probably better written than most books. It's got a feel and a style all to itself and it's worth experiencing for that alone. There's a lot of body horror which can be pretty intense and it feels a little dirty sometimes but fits with what it is. The plot seems promising at first too, we have a drug that heightens peoples thought processes and perceptions that they can understand people well enough to read their minds in all practicality and they can play even with time itself. It's fun, intelligent and confusing. There are lots of things going on and twists and turns but it feels like it all has purpose and it's going to tie together. However its paced very unusually, we have a barely related prologue, then a full story with slightly rushed conclusion for the first half and then it seems to tell a bit of a half story in the middle and then it seems to launch into a seperate new story that tries to tie things up from the first. It doesn't ruin the reading experience or make it awful, but it stops it from being perfect. The ending itself is also a little confused and isn't quite the payoff we would have wanted, although still pretty good. The biggest problem is that you shouldn't expect a good pay-off to that fantastic title. And it even ruins the ending a little, I had to check out the TV Tropes page just to make sure there wasn't some misunderstanding on my part. But despite all this, if you looked at the title and thought, hey that's a funny title, and it's clever and immediately leap to all the story possibilities it might contain, you're ultimately not going to be disappointed that you put time into this book, particularly the beginning, even though it's flawed it's still amazingly original with plenty of moments of brilliance