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Hogarth judge

February 2018



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Shock and Awe

John Dies at the End

The indie film John Dies at the End is, along with Mike Judge's poorly distributed masterpiece Idiocracy, one the most successful attempt to bring the spirit of the Firesign Theatre to the screen. You know they know; there are several references dropped over the course of the film. But what we have here is a Firesign Theatre that's been updated for the 1990s, with extra darkness and gore.

What I would compare it to is Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure relocated to the world of William S. Burroughs. Other, similar comparisons will come to mind; an IMDB reviewer says "it's Dude, Where's My Car set in a David Lynch film."

It's essentially a set of horror skits, tied together by recurring characters, and organized Heavy Metal style around the common theme of an apparently sentient alien drug called 'soy sauce', one that apparently gives its users the power to psychically see the future, and alter time. It would probably be unbearable but for the fact that the film's two protagonists smile nonchalantly in the face of all the various weird episodes the film throws at them. The film definitely hits the ground running as it moves from standard teen-comedy situations into its several weirdnesses.

It's up on several video on demand services prior to its official release; the makers probably realize that it's going to be a cult film if at all, so may as well take it to the cult distribution channels first. If you don't mind a stiff dose of horror with your surreal comedy you might enjoy it.