Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Mike Vogel, Jaime Murray, Christina Cole
Directed by Dario Piana (interview)
This is one of the After Dark Horrorfest entries I knew the least about, just that the title character kept dying on a daily basis and waking up in a slightly different life. Though it sounds like the evil version of Groundhog Day, the actual story behind The Deaths of Ian Stone is anything but funny.
Throughout his various lives, Stone encounters a man who keeps telling him that “they” are killing him on a daily basis because they want him to remember something he did to them, but he has buried it so deep that he doesn’t even know who or what “they” are. Said stranger calls them Harvesters, creatures who feed on the fear of humans as a way of making themselves stronger, but at some point they became corrupted and now need to feed on our pain as well.
The pain and fear we feel the moment before a violent death is the most potent of all, so they keep setting up Stone to die in painful and sadistic ways. Every time he wakes up in a new life and begins to remember bits of the old one, they’re on their way to kill him again.
So that’s your reasoning, which I admit doesn’t make a whole helluva lot of sense for the most part. The underlying theme of love conquering all (no joke) was a bit ridiculous, in my opinion, but then the reason that was the main drive for Stone to do what he did makes some sense, even if its introduction comes out of left field.
Performance-wise there are some solid acting chops going on. Vogel, especially, carried the movie really well as the first clueless then pissed-off protagonist. As he goes further and further down and the lives he wakes up in become more and more damaged, I swear he started to look like a Terminator-era Michael Biehn, too. Weird.
But for every good performance there has to be some bad, and that lies on the shoulders of Jamie Murray as Madea, one of the Harvesters who was wronged by Ian when he did whatever it was he did to them and wants her revenge. At first she’s all right, showing up in one of his lives as his very hot girlfriend, but the more screen time she gets, the more hammy her character becomes until by the end she’s just running around spouting one-lines in a red shiny vinyl dress which, while it suits her curves well, is a pretty ridiculous getup when you think about it.
Not as bad as her henchmen, though, who end up with slicked back hair, shades, and shiny vinyl coat/dress things. There are times when you expect Stone to stop and tell them that his name isn’t Ian, it’s Neo, right before they have their reality-jumping final battle.
All in all The Deaths of Ian Stone has way too many elements that didn’t allow me to take it seriously for it to work overall. Though I appreciated the originality of the story, before its familiar elements started to shine through, it all seemed a bit empty and unsure of itself.
3 out of 5
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