Box art for John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End

  • Rated R
  • HD and SD formats available

independent, special interest

An otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 17
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Oddball horror/fantasy has gore, fake drugs, monsters.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that John Dies at the End is a horror/fantasy movie from cult director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) that's based on a 2007 cult novel by David Wong. It's an endlessly trippy, oddball experience about a fictitious street drug called "soy sauce" that lets users "see" things. Side effects and withdrawal from the drug are discussed. Bloody, gory fantasy violence is a major issue, with severed limbs, exploding eyes, strange creatures, guns and shooting, and ripped-up body parts (victims include children). Language is also very strong, with occasional torrents of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as other offensive terms. During one climactic sequence, the movie shows a huge group of topless (masked) women, lingering on them for several minutes. This is the kind of underground movie that certain teens won't be able to resist.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about John Dies at the End's bloody, gory, over-the-top violence. What effect does it have? Does the movie cross the line? If so, where/how?
  • Would you consider this a horror movie? Is it scary? Which parts are scary as opposed to funny?
  • What does it mean to be a "cult" movie or novel? What's the appeal of this strange, off-kilter style of writing and filmmaking?
  • How much does it matter if John Dies at the End has a "logical" plot that can be easily followed? Can it be enjoyable otherwise?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: It zigs, zags and trips over its own feet and on its own home-brewed hallucinogens. It's a ridiculous, preposterous, sometimes maddening experience, but also kind of a blast.

- A.O. Scott, New York Times, Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fresh: A shaggy-dog story with restless leg syndrome.

- Alonso Duralde, TheWrap, Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fresh: What may be the most freewheeling and imaginative film of Coscarelli's checkered career, loaded with tripped-out mood and nicely balanced between humor, horror and an underlay of genuine sweetness.

- Andrew O'Hehir,, Thursday, January 24, 2013

Audience Reviews

2 stars

John Dies at the End get's one star for being original and creative. The second star for having some of the movie filmed in my home town. I didn't know this before hand. But then when David is leaving the police station, which isn't a real police station, I was surprised to see that it was Center St. in my home town. Weird. But the movie itself was really cheesy with so/so acting. It's not something I would watch again.

- LWOODS04, Sunday, May 5, 2013

2 stars

Question: Have you ever watched an entire film and then wondered, "Perhaps I should have taken some sort of hallucinogenic in order to better understand it?" I am not advocating taking any sort of illegal narcotic, but I sat through John Dies At The End, and I am perplexed at what I just watched. And to be honest I have no idea if I liked it or not. The story is a bizarre one, and I didn't quite know what was going on until about two-thirds of the way through. I did not watch the preview prior, didn't read a stitch about the film or the book. This year (2013) I am attempting to see more films, watch ones that others recommend and view the ones my readers have asked me to take a look at. John Dies At The End opens January 25th, 2013 in theatre but is available on VOD now which is how I saw the film - in the privacy of my home. Now, what can I say about the film? It reminded me of Naked Lunch and possibly The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai - although it's been 20+ years since I have seen either of those films, or maybe watching John Dies At The End screwed around with my head. So, don't hold me to those comparisons. This film is just so bizarre, and when I think of bizarre, sci-fi/fantasy movies and the feelings they evoke, those two films pop in my head. I would catorgorize John Dies At The End a sci-fi film but it is listed as a fantasy, comedy, horror. It is comedy but I wouldn't really call it a horror. It's creepy, yes. There are strange creatures that infest people; and there were a few moments where I had to cover my eyes but it was more about the grotesqueness of what was on screen not that it was scary. To me, this was a buddy story where drugs were consumed and the valley between real, not real or where other worlds consist only if you are one of the chosen (when you see the film, you'll know what I mean) is very hazy - especially for the viewer. One of the main reasons that I watched this film was for Paul Giamatti. He is one of our finest actors that is not in enough films, in my opinion. I also found out that he was one of the executive producers of this particular flick. The director may sound familiar to you: Don Coscarelli. He also wrote the screenplay which was adapted from David Wong's novel (John Dies at the End). And for those you who don't recognize Coscarelli, let me list a few of his others films: Phantasm (and all the sequels), The Beastmaster (and its sequels), The Rules of Attraction and Bubba Ho-Tep. Yes, these are all cult-classics for the most part and can see why he was chosen to direct John Dies At The End. So, quick synopsis - a couple of college drop-out are introduced to a drug called Soy Sauce and they are chosen to pretty much protect our world from other strange ones that no one knows about or can see unless on the drug. However, the drug isn't a normal one and only allows some to have the power. We are along for the trippy ride with these unlikely heroes. No more details. This is one you just have to check out for yourself to learn about the odd storyline. As I mentioned in the beginning, I really don't know if I liked it or not. So I am going to give it an average score. This will either become another cult-classic that many adore or will quickly fade into obscurity. And I may change my mind, either way, but for now this was just a so-so story for me, but I have a good feeling many will really like John Dies At The End. Review: 5 out of 10

- katykern8261, Tuesday, January 1, 2013

4 stars

Have you ever wondered what Alien would be like if the entire crew of the Nostromo was a bunch of easily-distracted, silly drunken jackasses? Well I've got the movie for you! Ever since I heard the plans for this movie, I've been itching to see it. In fact, I might have skipped TIFF this year entirely if this hadn't been part of the roster. It's about an interdimensional monster that is trying to infiltrate our world by tricking people into taking a drug and then inducing hallucinations. The only ones who can stop it are a pair of slackers who aren't particularly motivated. John and Dave are two regular guys who'd much rather get back to their game of Mario Kart than be action movie heroes and save the world. It's like watching a horror movie starring my best friends. This movie is pretty surreal and the story gets a little muddled a few times, but that is kind of the point. I love the book, and I think Don Coscarelli's greatest triumph here is completely nailing the tone; it's a horror movie that has the potential to be oppressively terrifying and nihilistically grim, if not for the two main characters laughing and saying "can you believe this shit"?

- MidnightMadwoman, Friday, November 23, 2012