John Dies at the End has a Scanner Darkly vibe

John Dies at the End was originally slated to hit theaters sometime this year, as production has been completed for some time now, but the studio, Midnight Alliance’s, search for a distributer ran into some delays, and for a while it was unsure if the film would find distribution at all.

It’s been picked up now by Magnet, however, and so is back on track for release, though it will be delayed beyond the end of the year while details are worked out and plans are made.

The movie is based on the novel by David Wong. The story didn’t actually start with the novel, though. John Dies at the End began as a serialized fantasy/horror/comedy story on the web in 2001, was later published as manuscripts, and then finally as a novel in 2007.

The story is set within the framework of an interview given by David Wong to a reporter regarding the effects of an enigmatic street drug known as Soy Sauce. The drug has an interesting side-effect of giving the user a sort of prescience, but it also seems to make them dangerously paranoid and causes hallucinations.

Since the tale is mostly told second hand, it’s sometimes difficult to tell if what happened to David and his friend John is real – or simply part of the delusions caused by the drug, which gives it a definite Scanner Darkly vibe.

The two adventure embark on an adventure with monsters, demons, gangsters, shadow people, and even hallucinated video games made real by the power of the strange drug. Throughout the long web series, the pair became paranormal investigators of a kind, and are among the few people who understand that things are not always as they seem.

The synopsis is thus:

It’s a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce, and users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can’t.

John Dies at the End stars Paul Giamatti, Rob Mayes, and Chase Williamson. Despite what the trailer still says (an updated one hasn’t been put out yet) The film is slated to hit theaters, in limited release, sometime in 2013.