01/25/2013 10:26 am ET Updated Mar 27, 2013

Movie Review: John Dies at the End

Based on a cult novel by David Wong, Don Coscarelli's John Dies at the End suffers the same problem as its source book: an elaborate imagination in service to writing that is never anywhere near as funny or clever as the writer seems to believe.

As a result, this film is an imaginative bore, an elaborate narrative that loops and curls and twists -- without getting anywhere at all. You keep waiting for this stuff to start paying off, but it's like plugging quarters into a broken slot machine.

The plot, such as it is, has to do with a pair of video store clerks, Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes). One night after an outdoor performance by his rock band, John comes in contact with an alien substance, which he and Dave term "soy sauce" because it is black and viscous. Ingesting even a drop is like taking a kind of LSD that unplugs you from temporal reality and allows you to see all times and dimensions at the same time.

There's something about an evil alien force hoping to take over Earth, and a self-help evangelist played by Clancy Brown. Frankly, it's too easy to lose track and lose interest after about 20 minutes of this over-amped nonsense.

The film's most recognizable name is the always terrific Paul Giamatti, who is also one of the producers. But he only plays a journalist who is listening to Dave tell the story. Most of the film is focused on Mayes and Williamson, who are in no danger of being drafted for the Saturday Night Live cast.

John Dies at the End theoretically gives it all away in the title. I'm here to tell you that you won't care when the titular event transpires -- you'll have long since lost interest in the movie itself.

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