The Deaths of Ian Stone
US Rating: R - Violence, Some Drug Content and Brief Language
Film Length: 87 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English and Spanish
The Film - out of
In 2006, a festival of horror films was created – sharing with eager horror fans independently produced genre movies that promised to chill them to their bones, scare them to death and entrance them, as the marketing goes, in a state of fear. After Dark Films brought together eight films that would likely not otherwise have found an audience. This ‘Horrorfest’ festival assembled little known or unheard of films that dealt with stories of ghosts and ghouls; the grim and gross. The 2007 Horrorfest sought to reignite the success of the first festival, by bringing to audiences a collection of 8 more films to die for. The films in the 2007 festival included tales of zombies, ghosts, strange creatures and the end of the world. The collection of 2007’s ‘8 Films To Die For’ include Nightmare Man, Unearthed, Tooth and Nail, Lake Dead, The Deaths of Ian Stone, Mulburry St. , Borderland and Crazy Eights.
After a disappointing High School ice hockey game, Ian Stone encounters a terrorizing creature by a railroad on his way home. Frantic and fearful he fights to escape only to be forced into the path of an oncoming train. In an instant he is dead but awakens to find himself in another life, a little disoriented, but with no memory of his previous existence or the horrific way in which he died. The new life seems to make sense. He knows who he is, the people around him and a routine, but somewhere just beneath the surface, he knows that something isn’t quite as it seems. When it happens again, the memories, though distant, begin to surface and he realizes that something very dark and terrifying is pursuing him. He must uncover the mystery behind the brutal cycle and bring an end to his painful deaths and jumps to new lives.
The Deaths of Ian Stone, written by Brendan Hood and directed and co-produced by Dario Piana is a novel concept in horror. Borrowing a conceit more commonly found in intriguing science fiction, it posits a clever and unsettling notion that a man could experience a horrible death and wake up at exactly 5:03pm in another life. Though at the onset it is reminiscent of a disturbing Quantum Leap, it finds its way beyond the comparison to become an intriguing and curious horror idea. With a fast pace and excitement at almost every step, it manages to stand above most other horror films of recent memory.
With production support from Stan Winston studios, including the impressive creature designs and effects, the film accomplishes a look and feel I suspect exceeds its budget. The great story idea and production design are equally supported by the good cast which includes Mike Vogal as the title character, Jaime Murray as Medea (the principle creature) and Christina Cole as Jenny. Aside from being young and attractive, they remain fresh and convincing. Christina Cole in the role of Jenny is particularly good, bringing a dramatic and relatable edge to the film.
The films grey tone suits the somewhat abstract feel the character of Ian Stone must endure and works with the more sterile lighting used in some of the films more grotesque scenes later in the plot. Well shot, solid cinematography and good location choices are all ingredients for an entertaining horror picture.
Some of the absorbing ideas come a little loose at the seams as the films mysteries are explained and the cleverness isn’t answered by perfectly fulfilling meaning, but the story holds your attention from the get-go, building thrills and curiosity through the first two-thirds of the movie. It slows down in the closing act, not quite delivering the knock-out blow promised in the build up, but it still clocks out with a strong close compared to the horror field these days.
Of the ‘8 Films To Die For’ in 2007, The Deaths of Ian Stone stands out as having the most compelling story, the best eye candy in the creature effects by the ever imaginative Stan Winston Studio’s and one of the better concepts.
The Deaths of Ian Stone is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and 16x9 widescreen. The color tones are grey and a little sterile which serves the story, but the black levels don’t come through as crisp as they could and some scenes do seem murky. The image doesn’t suffer from the same level of softness that other horror films from the 2007 Horrorfest lineup have, managing a better level of sharpness and clarity.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound does a rather good job. In addition to the clarity in the center channel with the dialogue, there is a hefty amount of action in the subwoofer, solid bass in the low end and exciting directional effects. The sound field woks to provide the visuals with a suitable companion and works reasonably well to that end. Nothing overwhelming but a good and satisfying track.
Miss Horrorfest Contest Webisodes - (19:19) – Split in to several chapters that you can select or choose a ‘play all’ feature, this quest to find and crown the next Miss Horrorfest comes off like the slew of annoying ‘reality’ show excess clogging up the airwaves (and now the internet). Basically a classless diversion and mostly irrelevant to the horror film proceedings.
The Deaths of Ian Stone proves to be a great little horror film, not so much for its scares and freak outs, but rather its fascinating idea and the high production quality employed to tell the story. The well shot and acted film raises the overall quality of the seven companion features from 2007’s Horrorfest offerings. Perhaps it was the sci-fi touched notion of dying horrible deaths and waking up in a new life unaware of the hell your caught it, but The Deaths of Ian Stone really does work well.