Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

There are still movies floating around from the last Lionsgate After Dark Horror fest that I still haven’t gotten around to watching, and if you don’t know, the After Dark Horror Fest is a compendium of mediocre to slightly below average horror films grouped together in a clever marketing campaign.  Though they’ve been around for a little while ‘The Deaths of Ian Stone’ is the first of the 2nd iteration of the horror fest that I have the pleasure of seeing, and judging from this particular movie, the routine hasn’t deviated much as ‘The Deaths of Ian Stone’ is a mediocre exercise, albeit a slickly done one, wrapped around a clever marketing campaign.

When we first meet Ian Stone (Mike Vogel) he is on the ice with his hockey squad as time is ticking down to zero.  Now I’m no hockey expert but I know a puck hog when I see one.  Pass the damn puck Ian!  Anyway, with two seconds left Ian shoots and HE SCORES!  Unfortunately the big clock on the wall had stopped while the ref was keeping the official time as the puck hog costs his team the game.  Depressed, Ian goes home with his girlfriend Jenny (Christina Cole), drops her off and then the weirdest thing happens.  He gets pulled out of his car by a smoky black ghost monster, tossed on the train tracks and gets himself completely eviscerated, which has to totally suck.

Well maybe he’s not dead because after the train runs him over he finds himself in an office doing the 9 to 5 and damn if Jenny isn’t there again, only this time she’s not his girlfriend but a fellow employee.  Some more weird stuff happens as Ian makes it home to his new crazy hot girlfriend Medea (Jamie Murray) who comforts him on the craziness that he’s recently experienced and then the two proceed to have fake above the neck sex.  The next day more weird stuff happens and some weird old dude corners Ian to let him know that ‘they’ are trying to kill him and it will never end.  Then the old dude gets snatched, Ian flees in terror, runs into the arms of his hot girlfriend, as if she could actually stop the hook armed ghost monster, and ends up dead anyway.

But he wakes up again and again, and so it goes as Ian dies only to be resurrected time and time again. Why is this happening? We'll eventually see that old dude again and he will explain everything in explicit detail, and what he doesn’t explain the evil black smoke, hook armed ghost monsters will doubly explain, and it all has something to do with that little thing called love. Yes, the smoky hook monsters have no love for the love and now it’s up to Ian to find a way to save the love and end the reign of the evil hook monsters, monsters, who are from a place I like to call ‘Haterville’.

I certainly don’t think you can accuse ‘The Deaths of Ian Stone’ for lacking any style as it was a very nice looking, slickly shot production with solid special effects and featured Jamie Murray in bra and panties, and few women out there can sport a bra and panties as expertly as Ms. Murray can. Everybody will laugh when the smoke monsters, known as Harvesters, show up in their ‘Matrix’ gear complete with ultra cool sunglasses, but whaddayagonna do? As the film begins, rather deliberately I might add, director Dario Piana gave us the appearance that he is in the midst of crafting a fairly taut psychological thriller but unfortunately, somewhere around Ian’s second life, the tautness and the psychology started to disintegrate into nonsensical silliness.

It appeared that  the narrative of ‘The Deaths of Ian Stone’ was desperately trying to avoid just this thing as it took great pains to continually explain to us what was going on and why these Harvesters are doing what they’re doing, but in my opinion this was a mistake on two fronts. Firstly by taking a hold of our collective hands and walking us through the story’s numerous explanations, it completely destroyed the psychological aspects of the film that seemed so promising early on, leaving the audience with nothing to ponder or figure out.  Secondly, the reasoning behind this melodramatic narrative was underwhelming. I mean I love the love as much as the next guy but it seemed to me that these Harvesters could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by just leaving the dude alone. Since their explanations for why they are so hateful didn’t hold water for me, it probably would have been cooler to just leave it out completely, which would then lead to dudes on the internet making stuff up, fighting with each other, calling each other ‘morons’ and giving your movie ‘legs’. Know what I’m saying?

That’s too bad because ‘The Deaths of Ian Stone’ had some really nice things working in its favor with its stylish look, blatant theft of ‘The Matrix’ vinyl, and pretty cool looking smoky ghost monsters. Ultimately it was undone by not only a silly premise, but more so by not trusting in its audience to at least come to some of their own conclusions. We’re not as dumb as we look.

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