Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Deaths of Ian Stone

I had a feeling, after really enjoying Borderland yesterday, that there would be a bit of a backslide in quality today. While it certainly wasn’t as great a decline as I’d feared (this really is no worse than, say, last year’s The Hamiltons), it does mean that (assuming Mulberry Street is good) this whole set as a whole is only marginally better than last year’s, and that is none too promising.

The film itself functions as a horror mixture of Groundhog Day and Dark City. A young man named Ian Stone is repeatedly killed by shadowy monsters, and each time he dies he comes back with a whole new life and no memory of what has come before. While this is quite a nice promising start to the film, he soon starts to figure out that someone is going wrong and begins remembering more and more of how he got this way, what these things after him are, and a whole mess of other things that get heavily overexplained. I know this is not a genre that is generally known for subtlety, but it is not really necessary to explain so much, particularly when the explanation is so lame and poorly-done.

Honestly now, what would you rather see a movie about? A guy losing a hockey game and then being tossed in front of a train for his ineptitude, or a guy going “What? I don’t understand!” over and over again as someone else tells him his whole hidden past? Indeed, I know which of those two I could watch all day long (I didn’t recognize his team jersey, possibly because the film is set in England, but I think we all know that, were he American, he’d have been making game losing shots for the Flyers). Unfortunately, that’s not the direction that director Dario Piana or writer Brendan Hood went with. Still, if you can get past the problem of it being very reminiscent of two much better films (three, if the monsters’ rapid head shake reminded you of Jacob’s Ladder like it did to me), it’s not bad at all. It’s just a good deal less than it could have been.

Also, what’s with these After Dark movies and poor cell phone reception? I mean, there are reality manipulating demons in this film so it's understandable with this film, but it’s the third film out of the seven I’ve seen (the other two being Lake Dead and Borderland) where someone tries to call for help only to not get a signal. Come up with a new problem already!

Rating: **

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