Stake Land (2010) Movie Review
Stake Land is a 2010 horror movie by filmmaker Jim Mickle about a world that has been over run by an epidemic of feral blood thirsty Vampire/Zombie hybrids refered to as Vamps.
America is a broken nation under marshal law, Cities are in shambles, people fight to survive the nights not only from the vampires but from people themselves. The story follows young Martin (“Gossip Girl’s” Connor Paolo) who’s family is slaughtered by Vampires at the start of the film. He is then taken under the wing of a grizzled, wayward hunter (Nick Damici) who has become quite skilled at killing vamps in his travels. This sets up the main plot as these two travel North to the much fantasied New Eden where it’s rumored to be a safe zone.
To be honest I didn’t think I would truly enjoy this film due to some immaturity on my part because I thought the title “Stake Land” was not only kinda dumb, but too similar to Zombie land. Also the opening montage of the young boy being trained to fight vampires by the “Mister” character with a slow motion montage of air-stakings looking like something out of the post-apocalyptic Karate Kid. That being said, this film does a lot of things right. The action set pieces are shot very well and they do everything they can with what I presume is a low budget. The horror in this film is also amped up with some very good cinematography and some genuinely terrifying moments. The mythology and back story of what happened to the world is interesting and doesn’t give too much at the same time. Another piece of this film I enjoyed was the fact that sometimes the vampires take a back seat to crazy human (mostly religious) shenanigans which I believe would most likely be true in such an event.
As far as the character’s go Mister stands out the most as a classic western prototype who’s determined to do the right thing while revealing nothing about himself in the process. Young Martin is our narrator and main protagonist as he learns to slaughter Vamps as the film moves forward. Along the way they encounter more characters who join them but are given very little character development which I found to be my main criticism. When one character finally bites it I remember thinking “oh no, they killed…what’s his face”
This film takes with it small slices of similar films and stories such as “The Walking Dead” “28 Days Later” “The Road” and “ZombieLand” without totally ripping them off and really coming into it’s own at the end of the film. My overall thought of this film was said out loud during the end credits which was “I hope they make a sequel.” Stake Land gives you a lot without giving you too much, which is what a good sci-fi/horror movie should do, keep you wanting more. This film succeeds.
B (See it soon, Buy the Bluray if cheap, lots of good extras)