Movies reviewed in brief: "The Monk” and "John Dies at the End”

  • Updated: March 7, 2013 - 2:06 PM

Chase Williamson in “John Dies at the End.”

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THE MONK

⋆⋆ ½ out of four stars

Rating: R for some sexuality, brief graphic nudity and some violence. In subtitled French.

Theater: St. Anthony Main

This adaptation of the classic anticlerical gothic novel is genuinely eerie, but told at a too-stately pace. Vincent Cassel plays Brother Ambrosio, abandoned at the door of a Spanish monastery as an infant and now a devout Capuchin friar. A model of rectitude, he becomes a legend in 17th-century Madrid, drawing overflow crowds for his brilliant and moving sermons. His inflexible righteousness leads him to reveal a nun’s pregnancy to her prioress with unspeakably cruel consequences, and, as if in retribution, his faith is put to the test. A mysterious lad wearing a mask to cover his fire-scarred face arrives at the monastery and becomes Ambrosio’s confidant. The relationship leads the unworldly Ambrosio through a maze of duplicity, depravity and lust. The story is chockablock with twists and surprise revelations that make its tastefully rendered depravity all the more disturbing. If only director Dominik Moll (who has clearly studied his Luis Buñuel) had not staged this bitter psychological horror story at half speed.

JOHN DIES AT THE END

⋆⋆ ½ out of four stars

Rating: R for bloody violence and gore, nudity, language and drug content.

Theater: Lagoon.

How can a single movie contain all this awesome craziness? Envision the “X-Files” and “Bill & Ted” universes colliding. Imagine Philip K. Dick and Hunter S. Thompson collaborating on a farce about “soy sauce,” a sentient, shape-shifting psychedelic ooze that chooses its users like an infection. In “John Dies at the End,” wiseguy slackers David Wong (the distinctly non-Asian Chase Williamson) and John Cheese (Rob Mayes) are paranormal exterminators in the crossfire of some sort of trans-dimensional war. Their adversaries include zombies, monsters made of cold cuts, and alien entities in the guise of smokin’ chicks. David arranges a tell-all with an incredulous reporter played by Paul Giamatti (who also produced because he’s a huge fan of gonzo monster movies; who knew?). The genre-bending story careers here and there like DUI bumper cars, and director Don Coscarelli (of the sublimely nuts Elvis vs. mummies flick “Bubba Ho-Tep”) dares you to hang on. Even if you’re stone sober (not the recommended viewing condition), this movie will make you feel like you’re in the final rounds of the Beer Pong Olympics.

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