Running Time: 98 minutes
Starring: Danielle Harris, Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Kelly McGillis
Directed By: Jim Mickle
Rating: 6 out of 10
Vampires rule the world as mankind is pushed to the brink of extinction.
While John Goodman and I would thrive in a world named Steak Land I am sure we would struggle in a place called Stake Land. In a time where everything vampire is hip, this smaller known vamp flick works when so many of its big budget brethren fail. Stake Land is the story of the world in a vampire apocalyptic state. We follow the vampire slayer known only as Mister, and his protégé Martin, as they travel the country looking for a place free of vamps so they can settle down.
A perfect description of the film is the movie the Road meets televisions Buffy the Vampire Slayer (without humor.) Humankind’s propensity for violence is apparent even in peaceful times and that is why this film is so good. Not only are the vampires the threat but so are roving groups of cannibals and religious zealots. We find ourselves in a world where the economy, government, and even normal society have collapsed. Bartering is the new currency and the towns have been reduced to pockets of humanity behind heavily guarded barricades. The vampires roam the country side looking for human blood and the humans cower in fear. Through all the chaos and unrest are the grizzled vamp killer Mister, and his young Padawan learner, Martin. They are masters at surviving when so many others have died off. If you don’t mind a lower budget film and a slower moving story there is much to like about this movie. The vampires are not always amazing to behold but are still well designed. They come across more as zombies as they are perpetually covered in blood and behave more on instinct then brains. What the vamps lack in intelligence, they more than make up for in brawn and that is where Mister comes in. He is a remorseless killer and he brings down vampires like he is cutting grass.
Mister is played very well by actor Nick Damici. His grizzled and veteran look has a lot to do with his performance but he is a lead character worth following. His baby faced apprentice Martin is played by Connor Paolo. He is okay but really anyone could have filled that role. I have to mention that Danielle Harris is in this film mainly because she is such an awesome scream queen and a favorite of mine.
So the film really isn’t anything more than the two main characters traversing the country looking for a vampire free haven. They encounter brutal vampires as well as humans and they cut a bloody path out of each situation as it arises. It is cool to see the bleakness of the world as humans are on the brink of extinction. The makeshift towns and the people scavenging for food provides a great backdrop for how hard it is to survive in a world that has no future. The end might be too abrupt or unsatisfying for some but I felt it fit well with the apocalyptic vision they were going for. I praise this film but please be warned; it is more about survival than battling vampires. The lack of budget is clear as there are not as many vampires as one would like. However the story’s overall vision is more than worth the watch.
Director Jim Mickle has lots to be proud of. In a time where vampires are terribly oversaturated he puts forth a unique vision. He treats them more like fast moving zombies and it was a neat take. His casting was sound and his portrayal of humanity is quite believable. The film drags and the fight scenes could be crisper but he got his vision across and I liked it for the most part. It was a job well done.
I give this movie a recommendation as these vampires are not emo they are just here for your blood.
T Factor + If you like vampire movie than this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like your vampire films more action oriented then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Doomsday, The Road.