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March 23, 2013

Movie Review: The Deaths of Ian Stone (2007)

by Peggy Christie

Ever have one of those days? You know, you wake up late, there’s an accident on the highway, you spill your coffee all over your computer, some guy is lying across the road blocking your way home, a shadow creature comes out of nowhere and kills you?

The Deaths of Ian Stone is about Ian, a guy having such a day as I described above. He plays hockey for a small college and just as he shoots the winning goal, the game ends and the point doesn’t count. Apparently the game clock stopped with two seconds left but regular time kept on tickin’ so Ian’s team loses.
On the drive home, just before the train tracks, he sees someone lying in the middle of the road. When he checks it out, the figure jerks and Ian runs to call for help. While doing that, a shadowy figure crashes through the car windshield, pulling Ian from inside, then drags him to the tracks, just in time for a train to run him over.

Flash to the next scene: Ian is in an office, toiling away at a boring 9-5 job he hates. Wait, what? Wasn’t he just playing hockey? Didn’t he just die?

This is the movie: Ian dies every day – different time, place, and manner – then wakes up in a new life until he’s killed again by yet another shadow figure. Hockey player, office mole, cab driver, etc. etc. etc. What the hell is going on?

Cue a mysterious stranger, who looks like he’s gone a few rounds with a cheese grater, warning Ian about these creatures that keep killing him. They will continue to do so until Ian does what they want.
But what do they want? Can Ian stop them from their daily murder ritual? Or will his lives go on and on – forever?

I loved the concept of this film. Ordinary Joe goes through his ordinary life every day until he dies – every day. It’s fun to watch him struggle with the puzzle and grapple with the idea that something strange and supernatural is happening.

Mike Vogel, who plays Ian, has been in some crappy stuff. But I enjoyed his acting in this one. He’s very believable as a regular guy, despite his pretty looks, and you want him to figure out what’s happening and how to stop it.

And survive longer than a day.

The shadow creatures are pretty creepy. You can imagine without the smoky special f/x surrounding their screen time, they’d just be a bunch of stunt men in black rubber suits. But the CGI looked surprisingly realistic and had me clenching (everything) whenever they showed up.

There was a little plot confusion. The mysterious stranger tells Ian the shadow creatures DON’T want him to remember but it eventually becomes clear they DO want him to remember. But you don’t know what until the big reveal later so I guess it works out all right.

Though part of me wishes that the reveal revolved less around an emotional cliché, and that it wasn’t so easy to figure out every twist and turn, the whole movie is exciting, entertaining, and good ol’ creepy fun.

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