At a reported budget of $11 million, English horror-fantasy "The Deaths of Ian Stone" is definitely a production-value cut or three above the other entries in this year's After Dark Horrorfest program: It's got a fairly original concept and diverting visual effects from Oscar-winning f/x maestro Stan Winston, who also produced.

At a reported budget of $11 million, English horror-fantasy “The Deaths of Ian Stone” is definitely a production-value cut or three above the other entries in this year’s After Dark Horrorfest program: It’s got a fairly original concept and diverting visual effects from Oscar-winning f/x maestro Stan Winston, who also produced. But this slick genre piece is less than satisfying in narrative and character terms, with a repetitious, gimmicky structure and murky motivation. In most territories, tube and DVD seem likelier than theatrical exposure.

Ian, (Mike Vogel) — a Londoner whose Yank nationality seems too obviously a marketing decision — is disoriented. One minute he’s a college hockey player, then an office wonk, cabbie or junkie. He’s always “Ian,” and whether girlfriend, nurse or whatever, Jenny (Christina Cole) is always there, too. Why does he keep getting killed by sooty-black bird-demon beings, only to wake again in a new situation? Turns out he’s being pursued by immortal “Harvesters,” whose leader takes the too-campy human form of dominatrix-like Medea (Jaime Murray); the bland, jockish hero hardly seems worth such trouble. Action is almost nonstop, but rooting interest palls.

The Deaths of Ian Stone

U.K.-U.S.

Production

An After Dark Films release (in U.S.) of an Odyssey Entertainment, Isle of Man Film (U.K.) presentation of a Stan Winston Prods. (U.S.) production. Produced by Winston, Brian J. Gilbert, Ralph Kamp. Executive producers, Steve Christian, Brendan Hood. Co-producer, Dario Piana. Directed by Dario Piana. Screenplay, Brendan Hood.

Crew

Camera (color), Stefano Morcaldo; editor, Celia Haining; music, Elia Cmiral; production designer, Amanda McArthur. Reviewed at Century Plaza 10, South San Francisco, Nov. 12, 2007. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Mike Vogel, Jaime Murray, Christina Cole, Michael Feast, Mamix Van Den Broeke, Jeff Peterson, Bill Nash, James Bartle, Andrew Buchan, Michael Dixon, Jason Durran.
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