‘Stake Land’ Review
A SLAMADAM review!
Director: Jim Mickle
Starring: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, and Danielle Harris
Plot: A vampire epidemic has swept the world. America has collapsed into a wasteland. The mysterious slayer, Mister (Nick Damici), saves a young boy, Martin (Connor Paolo), from a vampire attack. He takes him as his ward, and the two journey to Canada, a prophesied haven, over very dangerous terrain
Stake Land takes a very unique approach to vampirism. Sometimes they are Euro-trash assholes trying to live in a secret society or American nomadic outlaws traveling town to town acting like they can do anything. Instead, this seems more like zombies or werewolves. Any resemblance of a human personality is stripped away in favor of instinctual animal behavior.
The post-apocalyptic wasteland is one part The Road, one part Book of Eli. Like Book of Eli, there are shanty towns few and far between. They are full of colorful yokels trying their best to live in the new status quo. There was one scene in particular where our heroes come across a security detail. They are compromised by individuals dressed in cargo shorts and novelty tees. It was funny and seemingly more realistic than the steampunk/Mad Max like wardrobe of Book of Eli. Like The Road, the land between the shanty towns are riddled with dead bodies and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. The open road has the same dangers as The Road like cannibals and paranoid scavengers, but now there is an added danger of vampiric attack. The dread is so much different this time around. In The Road, there was an uneasy sense of dread over the reality of the situation, while Stake Land had the “no where safe” vibe of general horror flicks.
What makes the generic horror scares so much better is the charisma of the cast. The mysterious Mister is a great horror protagonist. He oozes equal parts cool and badass. In comparison is Martin who carries a melting innocence transforming him into something as cool and badass as Mister over the course of the film. He is the emotional center of the film, and he is our point of view to the rest of the characters. We see Sister as a damaged maternal figure who needs as much protection as she offers. He stares longingly at Belle who despite her pregnancy becomes a passive love interest. Jebedia (Michael Cerversis) is the villain of the story, and he is targeting Martin specifically. After Mister kills 2 non-vampires for raping and beating Sister, one turns out to be Jeb’s son. He now wants to punish Mister by killing his ward. He is the leader of a religious cult, one that is very paranoid and ruthless when it comes to the treatment of others. They even go as far as to fly a helicopter over a peaceful shanty town and drop vampires into it, resulting in one of the more thrilling and original action scenes in the whole movie.
Stake Land has the makings to be a horror classic, at least among horror fanatics. It has a relatable protagonist with a memorable mentor that puts them on a journey built on legitimate scares and strategic gore. In a post-Twilight world, this is the vampire movie that everyone has been waiting for.
NINE out of TEN