Probably the best of the "8 Films to Die For" released in 2007 as part of the AfterDark Horror Fest, "The Deaths of Ian Stone" is influenced quite a bit by "Memento," "The Matrix" and even "Cemetery Man." It's got its flaws, but for a miniscule budget movie, it's pretty impressive in a lot of ways, delivering the kid fo paranoid horror we saw back in the days of "The Twilight Zone."
Mike Vogel (of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake) plays an American living in Britain who, we first think, is a hockey player. Then, a yuppie. Then, a taxi driver. Then, a junkie. Every time he is killed under very mysterious and seemingly supernatural circumstances he is instantly reborn as someone else. A blonde woman of his obsessions also turns up in different roles as well. And an old man, who tells him of supernatural beings that are constantly trying to kill him -- and how it's essential that he protect the blonde girl.
Initially, the "Twilight Zone" antics get a little boring, but as the film's plot develops and we find out who Vogel's character really is -- and what the strangely clawed characters are that are out to get him -- it gets pretty interesting. The film also features some pretty good effects, especially for a low-budget picture.
Vogel, however, feels a little out of place as a guy with an American accent surrounded by Brits. He's also just way too damn good looking -- which makes sense since he was a fashion model before showing up in horror films.
The real star of the film is director Piana, who delivers a dream-like journey that's part horror, part demented sci-fi, and despite the obvious "Matrix" similarities (it almost feels like Vogel's role was written for Keanu Reeves), the movie is an original. Piana's only other film is a 1988 horror release called "They Only Come Out at Night." It was released on VHS in the U.S. but never DVD. Too bad, because it's probably pretty good.