April 4, 2008

Reviewed by Hunter M.Daniels


It’s hard not to feel bad for Brendan Hood. His first screenplay, an imaginative horror story with some good scares and guts was rewritten into oblivion and became, They. Then, after 5 years he finally gets another movie produced and it gets released as part of Horrorfest.

I don’t know how many of you saw any of the Horrorfest films, but let me tell you, they suck. Almost universally. I saw 5 or 6 of last years crop, and only The Gravedancers and The Hamiltons approached watchable. Some of the other films, like Dark Ride rank just above “2 girls, 1 cup” on the entertainment and value scale.

the second year of Horrorfest seems to have produced some better films. I’ve only seen 2 this time, but neither has plumbed the depths of Penny Dreadful or Reincarnation. That said, IMDB very accurately lists, “Déjà vu” as one of the related keywords for the series.

The Deaths of Ian Stone is not a good movie. But, unlike They, it might actually be Hood’s fault this time. The film is almost like a horror version of a sketch film. Every 10-15 minutes Eli Stone dies and awakens in a new life. But people bleed through from life to lfe like SNL cast members appearing in consecutive skits.

At first, Stone is a star hockey player preparing for college. Next he is a Lawyer. After this, well, the movie begins to get a bit fuzzy in my memory. I know he ends up as a junkie in one life. It’s sort of like The Nines, but less funny and with a dude jumping in front of trains and stuff.

The premise of a guy dying every few minutes might sound like a fun movie and the fact that he is stalked by monsters through each of his lives makes for a neat metaphysical chase movie premise, but The Deaths of Ian Stone collapses in on itself because of repetition. Instead of Stone biting the dust in elaborate, Final Destination style, only to wake up and die again, the filmmakers mostly just stab the protagonist to death.

That’s right, you get 6 or 7 stabbings. Sure, a nifty monster arm impales him, but it’s pretty much bloodless, and dreadfully boring.

The monsters, courtesy of Stan Winston are fun to look at, but they don’t make that much sense. The way the monsters trap Stone in a series of unending deaths is never established, nor is there a reason that clocks stop functioning when the monsters are near. Luckily, no one in this world has a digital watch or a grandfather clock because this would break the entire gimmick.


Worse yet, the movie doesn’t even have rules. The monsters are chasing Stone because he used to be one of them but somehow killed one of these immortal monsters and left the tribe.

Instead of letting him go, the other monsters somehow trap him in mortal bodies and kill him over and over, while asking him to tell them how he killed their friend. Of course, he doesn’t know because they’ve wiped his memory. He doesn’t even know that he is a monster until the magical exposition monster comes and explains the entire plot. Also, it is implied that he’s been dying every day for quite some time but he never seems to remember any of the lives that occurred before the movie started.

As for the third act reveal, these monsters feed off of human fear. They lived as leaches until they discovered that a person’s fear right before he or she dies has a drug-like effect. Now the creatures are addicted.

So, knowing this basic plot, what could possibly be more powerful than fear? I’ll give you one guess.


Stone is full of obvious plotting and lame death scenes. The twists aren’t surprising, and the deaths aren’t terrifying or even that interesting. Instead of making a commentary on fatalism or playing off of the goofy, Groundhog’s Day premise, the filmmakers choose to give 7 variations on the same boring chase scene.

The end result is all the more frustrating because, even though the acting is subpar, Hood’s draft of They is damn good and I believe he has a great horror yarn somewhere in him. Also, director Dario Piana knows how to frame a shot and the Stan Winston effects are swell.

The film isn’t good, but the people behind the camera are all talented folks. You can see little glimmers here and there, but it never comes together. Gavin Hood is a name to watch for, hopefully.


The DVD comes with a clean transfer. Piana has some really nice angles and camera movements. The movie looks significantly more expensive than I could have possibly been because of his precise work. The DVD shows this off.

Unlike last year’s set of Horrorfest DVDs, this series appears to be a more bare bones affair. The only extra on this disc is a collection of truly wretched webisodes dedicated to crowning a new, “Miss Horrorfest.” I have a thing for goth girls and tattoos and I was still bored—not a good sign.

Having no extras might have been an improvement.


The Deaths of Ian Stone is a missed opportunity. Still, it’s better than the majority of After Dark’s releases.

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