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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘John Dies at the End’ (2012)

Everything is destiny, your choices are meaningless, and nothing is real.

This movie was fan-fucking-tastic. I’m not sure what to label it under though. I mean, it is supposed to be horror comedy, but it’s actually more like your classic Terry Gilliam film. Many elements of it are intended to be horrific, or unsettling, but then, Time Bandits was no horror, Barron Munchhausen was no horror, even as much as they occasionally included the horrific, gory, or disturbing moments. This movie was meant to be fantastic. It was meant to be all levels of weird necessary to make the viewer uncomfortable, and yet keep them interested… Kinda like a virgin at a strip club really.

It wasn’t perfect. The movie begins to lose steam at the end as most of the interesting parts are in the setup. I guess it just climaxes too quickly. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun letting it face fuck me for the first 45 minutes, but the rest left me a little dissatisfied and with a funny taste in my mouth.

You know? What was really cute about this movie is that the special effects seem almost intentionally terrible. In any case, the acting was pretty good for a movie of its caliber. The atmosphere was just right to keep the setting freaky as fuck, seemingly out of place, a little hokey, but not so much so that it kills the unsettling freakyness.

Horror Heads and Riffers alike are going to love this, or should. It’s just so much damn fun.


John does not die at the end. As a mater of fact, he dies at the beginning. But I think that’s supposed to be some sort of time relativity joke. You see, this movie follows the concept of ‘determinism.’ Everything is meant to be, set in motion from the moment an infinitesimal speck exploded into the known universe in a theory called the big bang. Everything is just a reaction of an action taken eons ago, and there’s no way to step outside that great machine. The only way to even see the machine, or little pieces of it, is to take a special drug. But the whole point is, if you discover the drug, you were already supposed to, because it’s part of that machine, and it chose you.

This concept is a little dumb though. If this is all just an automated reaction from actions set in motion from the beginning of time, then is there really any point into letting you see it? If we have no control over our action, and everything is destine to just play itself out exactly the way it’s supposed to, then victory and defeat are meaningless. Though, it is fun to watch all the puzzle pieces come together.

There’s a Cthulhu mythos element to this movie, that is kinda neat though.  ‘Demons,’ or what people would call demons, are just extra dimensional creatures. The big bad boss at the very end actually resembles the Shoggoth, in many ways. Though it behaves a bit more like Yog-Sothoth.

The mini boss is this weird insect like creature that I guess is a lot like the classic biblical Legion. Also a nice touch. My problem with this; two big god-like entities is one too many in one movie. It’s a bit like a movie with two major Hollywood costars. Too much ego. Killing one big god-like entity cheapens the idea of killing the second one. It’s like God of War. Once you’ve murdered your way through the Greek Pantheon, the squeal kinda just seems second hand.

These are my only two major complaints, and honestly, they’re not as major as they sound. Neither kill the movie, it’s just that, once one major nasty has been excised, the trip to killing the second one just seems to be dragging the movie along.

I don’t think this movie is a mandatory must watch, but it was pretty fucking good. I give it my full recommendation.

Thanks for reading my review. If you enjoyed it, consider sharing it on Facebook and Twitter. You can also help support my reviews if you buy my new novella “In the Shadow of the Mountain” from Madness Heart Press. Click the link below to read a sample and consider purchasing a copy.

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