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Poor Ian. The dude is constantly getting killed and waking up in a different life after a run-in with some creature he found lying on the road (after a hockey game, no less). To add even more weirdness to the mix, his girlfriend Jenny keeps showing up in a different role in every life he wakes up in. Dude, you should've stayed home.
After the subpar TOOTH AND NAIL, I was hoping for better things from the other films from last year's After Dark Horrorfest. All I can say is, that while THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE is better than what TOOTH AND NAIL offered, there are a few things that hold it back from being great.
I'll give the film this: it's been a while since I've seen a unique set up like what we have here. Part Quantum Leap, part Twilight Zone, part BUTTERFLY EFFECT. Granted, I never saw THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, but you get what I'm saying. It's certainly refreshing to be seeing something new and different on the screen rather than the same thing over and over (which seems to be the trend these days). Also, when you have Stan Winston and crew involved with a project like this, you can certainly expect some sweet effects, and for the most part they were there (the CG was 'meh' at times, but that's low budget for you).
Another plus would have to be the choice of Mike Vogel as Ian. Mike does a good job selling the constantly confused character, regardless of the script's weaknesses (more on that one later). Note to Mike: You're not the action hero type, so stick with roles that play off your real strengths like this one. As for the supporting roles of Christina Cole and Jaime Murray, while they're standard, they do give the film the pretty girls needed. Unfortunately, Ms. Murray suffers the wrath of the script with some of her lines, which brings me to the big dent in this film.
Wow. Writer Brendan Hood must be ADD, since the script is the equivalent of a horny teenager in a brothel. There's so much going on in the film to explore that it doesn't know what to do next. The audience doesn't get much help until 30 minutes into the film, when we finally get some exposition. It's nice to think in a film once in a while, but it also helps to have some coherence with that thought. Also, it seems Hood kind of forgot to wrap things up by the time the end of the film, and kind of slapped things together at the last minute. Couple that with cheesy lines liberally scattered about, and you have something that limps to the finish line.
The other big no-no is the fact that while Piana may be a good commercial director, he needs some work when it comes to films like this. Erratic editing throughout, edits that show the passage of time end up being confusing and edits that rob the film of suspense in general. It's unfortunate, since the film looked to be a fun ride until it shot itself in both feet with an unpolished script and inadequate direction.
What's left here is a film that was basically made with good intentions, but ends up suffering due to poor necessities. Where's Dean Stockwell when you need him?
Video: Visually, Ian Stone and company look pretty good on DVD in an anamorphic 2.35.1 widescreen presentation. The details are pretty sharp for a standard definition release, and the clean and high contrast look is certainly a plus. Unfortunately, there's a lack of truly deep blacks, and noise creeps into the whites at certain points. Overall, the look of the film deceives its low budget roots in a positive way.
Audio: Like the video, the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround is crisp and clean, though the rear speakers could've used a bit more punch during the more aggressive moments. The dialogue is bang on the money in clarity and all levels are given attention.
Unfortunately, we have the same DVD extras here as the majority of the films from last year's Horrorfest: trailers for THE EYE remake and the festival itself, and 20 minutes worth of webisodes of the Miss Horrorfest Contest, which aren't exactly chock full of information on the film. A shame, since I'd really like to have heard from Dario Piana on the film, and explain just what the heck was going on.
The slipcase for the DVD is again pretty cool, though I prefer the poster artwork than this one, which reminds me of Iron Maiden's cover for their single, Be Quick Or Be Dead (get googling, folks).
What started out as a promising film quickly gets bogged down by a flawed script and haphazard direction, which is unfortunate. Couple that with another practically bare bones DVD explaining the film, and you have something that you'll probably watch once and then forget about. Pick up THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT or JACOB'S LADDER if you want some thought with your horror.