It’s time for another film-based-on-a-book review!
Two nights ago I decided to watch the film adaptation of John Dies at the End on Netflix. It’s available for instant streaming. For a link to the book on Amazon, just go to the Books I Recommend page. Because I do recommend the book. Highly. It was awesome. I talked about it in this post. I haven’t read the sequel yet, but I will one of these days.
I will start with this warning, though: John Dies at the End, both the book and the movie, appeals to a very specific audience. Let me see if I can explain by telling you the genre of the book and film. I think it is best described as a psychedelic, horror, sci-fi, thriller, dark comedy, cult-classic. Get it? I hope so.
I know as an author I’m almost always going to tell you that you have to, have to, have to read the book at least once before or even after seeing the movie. It’s what I do. But I will admit that many movies can be enjoyed without reading the books they are based on. Not this time. This time I’m really going to stress trying the book out first. Because if you don’t like the book, you are most certainly not going to like the movie. And if you go into that movie blind, and it ends up not being your cup of tea, you might think I’m crazy for recommending it.
That being said, I did like the movie. I was surprised by that. The book had so many tightly woven and interconnected subtle details that I didn’t think a filmmaker would even know where to begin cutting it down and reworking it for the camera. But this is how they did it – they stuck really close to the book. For the most part. They had the main character, David, offering voice-over narration throughout the film, and they framed it with an interview between David and a journalist named Arnie. Just like in the book, these devices worked for the movie.
They did cut out a huge chunk of the middle portion of the book, but I understand why they did. If they’d tried to leave everything in, the film would have been six hours long. Also, you will notice that the special effects budget wasn’t terribly large, but they made it work. It just contributed to the “cult classic” part of its many genres.
So, to sum up, I liked the movie. It was a fun ride, and the actors were well chosen. Paul Giamatti was spot on as Arnie the journalist, Rob Mayes was a lovable, crazy John, and Chase Williamson showed us a believable everyman hero in his portrayal of David. If you liked the book, I think you will be quite satisfied with the movie.
That’s all for now!
Strenuous (adj) – characterized by vigorous exertion, as action, efforts, life, etc.
P.S. Though the owner of the dog is just a fictitious character in my comic, the dog himself is based on real-life Radar. Here are a couple pictures: