Friday, June 13, 2008

The Deaths of Ian Stone

Descent. It's a downward motion. Sometimes a descent is a leisurely glide gently moving toward the Earth, like that of a bird landing soaring on a calming wind. At other times descent is a sudden burst of speed, a rapid fall which catches you at the last moment and hurls you back up into the air. Still other times descent is long, slow, boring and inevitable; such as when you listen to Coldplay; or, if you're a goldfish, like when your lifeless scaly body is sent upon that last great voyage into the greater unknown via that porcelain whir-pool in the tiled room of your two legged owners.

Welcome back to the tome, Sporefans. This week's review is a symbolic journey; a journey that descends from a pretty decent beginning into a sloppily crafted mid-point before it finally tips and crashes to a terrifying halt; full of sound and fury, ultimately signifying nothing. I hope you'll join me in this allegorical experience as I attempt to demonstrate exactly how terrible watching this movie was through imaginative story-telling, and perhaps some interpretive dance.

I think it goes without saying that I'm going to blow the ending of this movie for you.

Read the descending text at your own peril.

I present to you, The Deaths of Ian Stone.

My first attempt to construct a proper metaphor for the pain and suffering caused by watching this movie ended badly, as I tried to express my disappointment with a 1:96 scale recreation of the Hindenberg air ship. Sadly, that idea went up in flames. While applying burn cream to what was left of my eyebrows, I hit upon the idea that maybe I should use words to convey this idea, rather than a balloon filled with a highly combustible substance.

The following review is entwined with an allegorical story of a young man on a journey which parallels the experience of watching this film. Hopefully the review will be more entertaining than the movie.

Upon first reading the description for this movie, I was a bit intrigued. The Deaths of Ian Stone is another one of the Horrorfest 2008 8 films to die for. The premise of this movie is somewhat original. A young man named Ian Stone (Mike Vogel), is killed (repeatedly) by dark and mysterious forces. However, instead of remaining dead, Ian awakens in a new but slightly different life after each death.

This isn't about that money I owe you, is it? Cause I will totally pay you back... next Tuesday.

And now, on to our allegory. Picture if you will, a young man about to embark upon a voyage. To where, I cannot say. Mostly because it doesn't matter. At this point it would be wise to name our representative protagonist, as it would be confusing to call him "representative protagonist" throughout the story.

A lesser writer might be inclined to name this character something like "Mr. Metaphor" or "Story" or "Plot Device"; but not I dear Sporefans. No, I shall not resort to such un-originality. I have not been pigeon-holed by the Hollywood machine, nor have my creative energies been sucked dry by the ever hungry entertainment industry forcing me to churn out sub-standard movie plots to fill contractual obligations.

Let's just call our representative protagonist "Mr. Night" and leave it at that.

So on the start of our journey the young Mr. Night boards a plane in the metaphysical plane going to his inevitable and final destination. The plane is comfortable, well lit, and not full of livestock as planes are frequently depicted in Indiana Jones movies. The stewardess is attractive and friendly, and the alcohol is complementary. Such is the beginning of the Deaths of Ian Stone, a warm happy environment full of promise and free liquor.

As the movie continues, Stone finds that he's being stalked by strange creatures. These creatures seems to be attracted to the dying and appear to feed off of some ethereal energies emitted by expiring humans. Most people can not see these creatures, but as Ian spends most of the movie being reincarnated we can assume that he is not like most people. During his second incarnation Ian meets an old man (Michael Feast) who warns him of the dangers of the mysterious entities who seek to kill Ian once again.

Buddy, your hands are really cold!

Back in the land of metaphors, the stewardess approaches Mr. Night and informs him that the passenger sitting next to the emergency exit is uncomfortable with the responsibilities of sitting next to the emergency door, and asks our reluctant hero if he would mind exchanging seats. With a slight feeling of trepidation Mr. Night accepts this solemn and serious duty, and is moved to the seat next to the emergency exit. As he settles in to his new seat he notices a small boy staring at him. The boy's face is covered in chocolate and he stares intently at Mr. Night.

"Hey there little guy," Mr. Night stammers, "My name is Mr. Night."

The boy does not respond, but stares at him coldly. After an uncomfortable minute of trying to ignore the child, Mr. Night finally asks "What's your name?"

"Plot device," the boy responds flatly.

Indeed, you too would feel a cold knot in your stomach if you were watching The Deaths of Ian Stone and saw a sage old man warning Ian about monsters who are out to get him, and telling Ian to protect Jenny (Christina Cole), Ian's sometimes girlfriend in this crazy mixed up world. Indeed, while it doesn't derail the movie, it is an ominous portent of things to come.

Ian prepares to get some dental work done by a dominatrix/monster. Unfortunatly this was the only doctor his dental plan would cover. Perhaps next time Ian won't go with "G'narg the eater of 1000 souls dental insurance."

Or perhaps he will. Maybe he's into that sort of thing.

As the movie continues Stone flees his supernatural pursuers while trying to get Jenny to remember their previous lives together. The movie progresses fairly smoothly until about half way in when it is revealed that Ian is not human, but of the same race as the creatures who are pursuing him.

Perhaps its me. Perhaps I have become jaded, or cynical with time. Perhaps I'm just crabby and irate. But when one of the key plot twists in a monster movie is "The protagonist is also a monster!" I tend to look unfavorably upon that movie. When you couple this with "The protagonist is a monster more powerful than the monster's who are out to get him/her," my revulsion grows exponentially. This cheap and tawdry move by Brendan Hood, the author of this rapidly descending film, takes an otherwise decent film and covers it with glitter and stickers. I haven't seen such juvenile one ups-man-ship since I was in grade school.

Summarily, someone should pay dearly for this crap. Luckily we have an allegorical scapegoat waiting by.

Not only is this guy about to be devoured, he's also soiled himself.

This turn of events in an otherwise decent movie is the beginning of the downward spiral of the plot. The allegorical representation of this effect would be if Plot device, the creepy and chocolate covered child sitting next to Mr. Night were to open the emergency door of the plane and hurl Mr. Night into the azure void for no apparent raisin. While I fully understand that the plot to my allegorical tale lacks motivation or subtlety, so too does the plot of the Deaths of Ian Stone; and I hope that this lack of intricacy truly reflects the emotional and psychic trauma inflicted upon me from watching this movie. I will not address how a small child possesses the strength to throw a grown man from an airplane, nor how the plane does not depressurize hurtling all the passengers inside the plane into the sky; for it truly does not matter.

It is just a crude allegory, after all.

The final slice of salt covered lemon thrust into the open wound that is the movie entitled The Deaths of Ian Stone comes in the form of the final "plot twist". The reason that the other Reapers are after Ian is due to the fact that Ian has the power to kill other's of his kind. Apparently the Reapers are immortal unless a very specific set of circumstances is fulfilled which gives them the power to kill others of their species. Very specific circumstances that are highly improbable. Something that most people would not associate with the power to kill. Something that you would find in a low budget movie from the 1980's.

In order to kill one of their own kind a Reaper has to find true love.

It seems Mr. Stone has a few more scars since the last time we saw him. That's what happens when you let a crazy dominatrix/monster do your dental work... and perform a few unnecessary surgeries...

You don't even want to know what she did with the rubber ducky.

You do want to know, don't you? You're really sick, you know that? Sick!

It is at this point that our allegorical hero Mr. Night ends his vertical journey, but not impacting with the Earth. Instead, he is impaled on a radio antenna atop a large building, creating an end befitting the allegory of watching The Deaths of Ian Stone. Truly this movie came crashing to a terrible halt in a gruesome and tawdry display of bad writing. How... how I ask you, could this movie or this allegory get any worse than the sappy Hollywood pleasing ending which makes a mangled mess of what was otherwise a decent premise?

Oh. Also, finding true love gives Ian the ability to bring his deceased girlfriend back to life. Cause, you know... he had to stab her.

Did I mention that Mr. Night was impaled by the radio antenna in the most humiliating and painful way possible? You know what I'm talking about. But... at least that's an end fitting of this ending.

OK Sporefans, against my better judgement I'm going to post the trailer for The Deaths of Ian Stone. I think watching this trailer is a waste of time, so if you're like me, you'll be watching this instead.

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