The loose description of John Dies at the End has two slackers stumbling across a bizarre street drug that may also be the beginning of an alien invasion, or something.
The movie does a pretty good job of capturing your attention, this can be both attributed to the basic concept of it’s material, and the fact that writer/director Don Coscarelli has had his moments throughout his career- Phantasm, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep. No one would ever confuse Coscarelli with Paul Thomas Anderson, but with the right material he can at least entertain.
Unfortunately John Dies at the End has a bit more ambition than it knows what to do with, and although that makes it good for a smirk or two, it’s not really worthwhile beyond the moment you watch it in. It almost, just not quite, lives up to the bar set by the movies it loosely pays homage to- Buckaroo Banzai and Big Trouble in Little China. With both of those titles however, you get a complete story and are left wanting to experience a little bit more of those worlds. I think anyone would have gladly accepted a little bit less of the sparkly zig zags offered here, in lieu of an idea or two being followed to completion.
As it is, JDATE, as the kids are calling it, isn’t terrible, I just can’t bring myself to say that it was good either.