Give or take the titular disclosure, “John Dies at the End” is a thoroughly unpredictable horror-comedy — and an immensely entertaining one, too. Thirty-odd years after unleashing “Phantasm,” writer-director Don Coscarelli delivers a gonzo gorefest about college dropouts investigating an E.T. invasion while tripping on “soy sauce,” a drug that makes crystal meth look like cotton candy. Pic gets nuttier as it goes, supported by snappy dialogue, an expert mix of digital and makeup f/x, and indelibly screwy perfs, including Paul Giamatti’s aptly low-affect turn as a jaded reporter. Discerning genre fans will surely bring “End” to a long afterlife in ancillary.
Inasmuch as the narrative makes sense at all, it would seem that twentysomething pals Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes) are in the ghostbusting biz of solving paranormal “problems,” including that of a woman whose deceased b.f. has been harassing her. Much of the pic takes place in flashback, as soy-sauced Dave doles out barely coherent details to Giamatti’s world-weary scribe. Surreal action scenes are executed with wit and energy, and the tech credits, including Robert Kurtzman’s ornately yucky makeup, are killer. Canine thesp Bark Lee is brilliant.