Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says not for kids
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.
- 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?
The good stuff
Positive messages: This movie is so bizarre and off-kilter that it's difficult to know which end is up, much less whether anyone learns anything or has any kind of take-way. But on the whole, the main characters appear to indulge in drugs (perhaps inadvertently) and violence with little or no consequences.
Positive role models: No one should emulate these characters: They take a strange new street drug and become involved with scary creatures, violence, weapons, dangerous missions, and other misadventures.
What to watch for
Violence: Lots of bizarre fantasy violence and scary creatures (though the special effects aren't exactly state of the art). A zombie's head is severed, a squirmy creature is chopped to pieces, a girl turns into snakes, a man's arm is torn off, a teen is shot in the head, a man's eyeballs burst, etc. And there's an even gorier animated sequence in which innocent victims (including children) are captured and ripped apart, leaving a canyon full of bloody entrails. Also guns and shooting, as well as a variety of other disturbing, bloody, and/or gory scenes.
Sexy stuff: Toward the movie's final stretch, a scene shows a large group of topless women wearing masks. They're shown at great length over the next few minutes. In an earlier scene, a fake penis briefly appears where a doorknob should be. Some brief kissing.
Language: Language comes in fits and starts. In some scenes it's like a torrent, and then it quiets down for long stretches. "F--k" and "s--t" are used many times. "A--hole," "dick," "bastard," "dumb ass," "damned," "penis," "motherf---er," "crap," "hell," "c--k," and the "N" word are also used.
Consumerism: The movie comes up with fake brands when needed.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: The movie is about a fake drug, dubbed "soy sauce," that has scary side effects. (The drug may actually be a living creature from another dimension.) Many characters -- either older teens or early twentysomethings -- take the drug willingly, but the main character only takes it accidentally (a needle in his pocket jabs him). Addiction isn't discussed, but withdrawing is an issue. Characters drink beer at a party.