The Deaths Of Ian Stone (2007)

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?


  1. I'm in the midst of watching these as well. I thought "Tooth and Nail" was pretty stupid, and I've also seen "Mullberry Street" which wasn't bad, but the fact that they had no budget on the film is very apparent. "Crazy Eights" is next up on my list, but like last year's offerings, minus the impressive "Gravedancers," I have little to no expectations.

  2. I don't really get you or Jonathan. I will give you "Tooth & Nail" because I didn't care for it either but reading the reviews you have posted on the verious AfterDark films, you seem like you, and Jonathan it seems, are going into the films already dead set against them.

    How are you supposed to enjoy a film when you walk into it already hating it? Any film is effected by your mood when you are watching it. I didn't like all of these films but I didn't think they were near as bad as you put them out to be. So I guess I don't know why you even bother watching them knowing you won't like them anyway.

  3. I really liked Gravedancers, and in fact didn't mind/kinda liked most of the 2006 ones. Dark Ride is the only one I downright hated from that set. But the first two I saw for this year (Unearthed and Tooth) were far from good, and the fact that I have yet to hear anything really good about any of the others doesn't bode well. However, I keep a neutral mindset for 99% of the movies I watch. It's not that I set out to hate them, I just assume they won't be much. In Gravedancers' case, my slightly low expectations resulted in really enjoying the movie. I never watch a movie INTENDING to hate it; even the Halloween remake I was actually a bit hopeful for (see my Grindhouse review for my thoughts on the trailer). And actually, my Ian review is kind of positive - I liked the first 2/3s, but the last act lost me.

  4. OOps, it was Ginger Snaps, not Grindhouse.

  5. I just enjoy horror films, so I like to give a lot of them a chance especially ones involved in a nationwide film festival; I think the idea behind displaying these films is a great one, and I go into these hoping for the best. Just based on the ones from last year, I wasn't expecting a whole lot, but I'm still hoping they are good.

    Speaking of which, "Borderland" is pretty damn good; just watched that one last night; it's right up there with "Gravedancers" as the best two I've seen so far from this film festival.

  6. I agree with Sam, I also thought that "Borderland" was the best out of this set. "Reincarnation" was my favorite out of the last set. I also liked "Nightmare Man" just because it was off the wall and funny in places.

    I'm not saying all of the sixteen movies were good but over all I have enjoyed both sets. I think AfterDark shot themselves in the foot by advertising them the way they did. Because of their advertising, everyone was expecting scary, gory...or whatever, from all of these movies. Well they weren't really any of that but I wasn't disapointed by all of the films.


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