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Deaths of Ian Stone - After Dark Horror Fest 2007, The
Directed by Dario Piana and produced by Oscar winning special effects master Stan Winston, 2007's The Deaths Of Ian Stone was written by Brendan Hood, the same man who wrote They for producer Wes Craven in 2002.
The film follows the titular Mister Stone (Mike Vogel of Cloverfield and the 2003 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake), a young man who leaves his hockey game one night and drives his Jeep home in the rain. He stops when he thinks he sees a dead man lying in the road. He gets out investigating but the corpse isn't human and Ian finds this out the hard way when it tears through his windshield and slaughters him on an active railway track.
From there, he wakes up in the midst of a completely different life where he's toiling away in an office. His stay in cubicle Hell doesn't last too long, however, as before you know it, he's murdered again, only to wake up in yet another completely unknown life. Every time Ian is resurrected in a new reality, he sees the same blonde woman named Jenny (Christina Cole). Does she have something to do with this or is something completely different and far more sinister responsible for Ian's constant death and rebirth?
The Deaths Of Ian Stone starts off with a haphazardly edited hockey game containing plenty of loud sound effects and choppy cuts but soon settles down and becomes a fairly atmospheric horror film for an hour or so. While not all of the CGI is entirely effective, there's some nice lighting and camerawork and while the color palate is a little too bleak in spots, the movie looks pretty slick. A few moderately gory killings and some inspired creature effects kept things interesting though by the time we're twenty minutes into the picture we can't help but think of The Butterfly Effect (and it's terrible sequel). Unfortunately the ending doesn't hold up. By the time we get to the big finale too many loose ends are still out there. The continuity that's been developed for the bulk of the picture is simply tossed to the way side for an explanation requiring set ups that haven't happened yet and which are seemingly just thrown in to finish things up in ninety minutes. This ending feels rushed and it doesn't do the strong build up justice.
Performance wise, Mike Vogel is pretty solid in the lead. He's effectively desperate and confused and we can believe him in the role without any detriment to our suspension of disbelief. Supporting roles from the very pretty Christina Cole and Jaime Murray give the picture some sex appeal and a bit of gloss but are otherwise fairly standard.
It's a shame that The Deaths Of Ian Stone is bookended by an obnoxious beginning and a poorly thought out finale as what is sandwiched in between is decent material. Piana directs the film at a good pace and it all looks quite nice. There were obviously some talented people involved and doing their best here, but the pay off isn't quite worth it and while the film is entertaining enough, it can't hold up to repeat viewings.The DVD
The Deaths Of Ian Stone looks quite good on DVD in an anamorphic 2.35.1 widescreen presentation. There aren't any compression issues nor is there any heavy edge enhancement. Color reproduction is nice and lifelike and there are no noticeable problems with heavy grain or print damage to complain about. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and detail is more often than not reasonably strong. A few scenes show some softness and some aliasing is noticeable if you keep your eye open for it but aside from that the movie, on a whole, looks very good.Sound:
The sole audio option on this DVD is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound with subtitles available in English or Spanish, with closed captioning provided in English only Overall, this is a fine track although the rears could have been used a little more often during a few key scenes. Bass response is pretty tight and lively and the levels are all properly balanced. There are no problems with hiss or distortion to note and the English subs are nice and easy to read.Extras:
Lionsgate provides animated menus, chapter stops, some previews for coming attractions that play when the disc loads, and a collection of footage from the Miss Horrorfest Contest Webisodes that were used to promote the After Dark Horror Fest and which seemingly appear on the all releases in the series this year. Here, various goth-ish gals in silly outfits parade around various locations and visit strange places to see who is the one most worthy of becoming Miss Horrorfest. It's all pretty retarded.Final Thoughts:
The Deaths Of Ian Stone has some interesting ideas working in its favor but doesn't go far enough with them or flesh them out well enough to really carry the impact that it wants to. It's not a bad film, but neither is it a great film. Worth seeing once - consider this a decent time killer and you'll understand why it's rated as a rental.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.