MARCH 27, 2008
This year’s After Dark festival titles have hit DVD, so I can begin the likely burden (as opposed to joy) of watching all eight before the next one comes around. Luckily, Unearthed and Tooth and Nail are long since out of the way, and I hope to hell they are among the worst, and not the best of the bunch. Hopefully, more of them are like The Deaths Of Ian Stone, which is well-made, occasionally interesting, but ultimately “meh”.
(It’s too much to ask at this point that any of them are actually GOOD).
Ironically, Ian Stone works best when it’s not really a horror movie. Ian (Cloverfield’s Mike Vogel) gets killed, then wakes up in a different life. Every hour so he is killed again, and each time he wakes up in a different persona: college student, office lackey, taxi driver, junkie... After a while, Déjà vu sets in and he begins to put the pieces together, with a little help from a mysterious stranger. And this is where the movie begins to fall apart, as the back-story is nonsensical, not to mention full of plot holes. It’s probably the first movie in which once things start to make sense for the main character, they make less sense to the audience.
Luckily, the CG is pretty good (Stan Winston designs!), so when we get to the finale, which consists of a few of the Dementor-ish spirit monster things whaling on each other, it’s at least visually impressive. And the main girl reminded me of Alexandra Holden, so that’s always a plus. However, the last act also introduces a few character who inexplicably dress in Matrix leftovers, and the sight of them is not only distracting (I actually had to rewind the movie to hear some dialogue because I was so amused by the sudden appearance of Trinity’s outfit), but laughable.
In theory, combining Dark City, The Matrix, They, and Groundhog Day could turn out OK, and for a while it works. There’s a great sequence early on when Ian witnesses another guy who is being stalked by the monsters dying on the street, and then being chased himself. And I always like seeing characters put things together. Plus, as a man who once got paid to sing Jim Steinman songs (in MTV’s Wuthering Heights), Mike Vogel is aces in my book. I just wish they could have come up with something better than “Matrix wannabes who live on fear” as the ultimate antagonist.
The DVD is strangely lacking in extras. Usually the After Darks have a commentary and/or a making of, but the only thing Ian gets is a group of Miss Horrorfest webisodes (which have nothing to do with the movie) and the usual 4505 trailers. The final Horrorfest webisode, where the Miss is announced, was filmed entirely at a party that yours truly attended last fall. If you watch the video in slow-motion and zoomed in, you can still not see me at all! Probably because I spent the entire night hovering near the crew door so I could get first pick on whatever was being put on a tray. Hardly the stuff of interesting video footage. “Hey, stop filming the half naked girls, there’s a guy in a Hatchet shirt eating a cracker dipped in hummus!”
What say you?