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The Deaths of Ian Stone

Directed by Dario Piana

Written by Brendan Hood

Starring Mike Vogel, Jaime Murray, Christina Cole, Michael Feast

Produced by Stan Winston, Brian Gilbert, Ralph Camp

Rated R


So I confess to some doubt before I put in The Deaths of Ian Stone. I saw the trailers, and the synopsis, and it struck me as an experiment. While any experiment has incredible potential to be a rare and unique gem, it also has incredible potential to be a train wreck of devastating proportions.

When you see the plot, you’ll see why. Check this out: some guy named Ian Stone (hence the title) runs into some strange something-or-other that forces him into the path of an oncoming train. Okay, big punch right away, right? But check out the rest—instead of dying, as most people tend to do when getting hit with a train, Ian Stone finds himself in a new life that seems oddly familiar. Until the strange something-or-other comes back, and Ian Stone finds himself back on the other end of the dying stick. It soon becomes clear that Ian will keep right on dying…until he can find out why.

And I found myself growing steadily more convinced that this was a really, really good move. Indeed, The Deaths of Ian Stone is an absolutely unique experience that I, despite decades of horror movies, cannot name a parallel for. Okay, granted, the whole “love triumphs over fear” motif they’ll be using throughout is so stale it could knock an intruder unconscious but still. This is definitely unlike anything I can name.

It’s got plenty of chases, action, killings, fistfights and all those things that put a real spark on horror filmmaking. I can’t tell you a whole lot more without spoilering like no tomorrow, but suffice it to say that I found everything to be done precisely well.

Oh, sure, I wish they’d gone back to the days when each title had its own DVD menu, and I wish they’d been able to infuse some of that sweet originality that the film itself had into that menu, but this is a problem so slight it barely matters. Tack that menu item onto my wish list, because it will not, read, not, affect your enjoyment of this film one iota.

The ending manages to not only tie up all the loose ends but also leave the potential of a sequel available in a fashion that doesn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence.

The special features are the only real low point for this title, having only Miss Horrorfest contest webisodes and English and Spanish subtitles. Sad for a movie this good, but still.

All in all, wow. Granted, The Deaths of Ian Stone may not be the same frenetic fright-fest as the series’ absolute high-water mark, 2007’s Gravedancers, but there’s no doubt at all that this one is a fantastic joy to watch, completely without parallel in the market, and an absolute, unquestionably must-see title.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.

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