Stake Land is a post apocalyptic road movie about a man known only as ‘Mister’ and a teenager who journey through a United States which has been overrun with zombie-esque-vampires.
The film is entirely watchable and is reminiscent of (the far superior) The Road but with added vampires. I say vampires but, although requiring stakes to the heart, they are basically zombies. So this does feel very much like a George A. Romero film, even down to the usual message that people can be just as monstrous as the monsters themselves. It doesn’t have the originality or political undertones of his first three Dead movies – but it is certainly more entertaining than his more recent Zombie outgoings.
I was a little trepidatious about seeing Stake Land after recently watching another film which was trying to cash in on the current popularity of vampire films. The Bleeding saw UFC fighter Michael Matthias doing battle with the vampiric Vinnie Jones and while that film spent its limited budget on cage fighters and ex footballers, Stake Land spends its money on looking great. The cinematography is wonderful, making the most of great locations and fantastic sets, and the gore (which there is plenty of) is suitably graphic and realistic.
The pace is slow but does speed up in some terrific set pieces. Generally the film feels epic despite is minimal budget. It’s 98 minutes take you on quite a journey, and by the end you feel the tiredness and pain of the characters. This might sound bad but it makes for quite an engaging experience.
There are however definite flaws with the film. The voice over throughout is redundant, and the dialogue clunky, with quips and one liners usually as imaginative as “f**k you vamps”. The younger members of the cast are also all a little too clean and pretty for the gritty world that’s been set up. There are a few moments with the two lead characters practising their stake skills which look straight out of a Karate Kid movie and seem rather tacky. But the biggest flaw by far is one scene near the end of the film which feels out of place and poorly judged, belonging more to a Vinnie Jones quick cash-in film.
Stake Land is a good looking film, with some marvellous sequences and would be great for fans of gore, however if you’re looking for something original then this has little to offer.
MOVIE RATING: 3/5
reviewer Harry Davenport
Rated: 15 (UK)
Release Date: October 17th, 2011 (DVD, Blu-Ray)
Director: Jim Mickle
Cast: Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Kelly McGillis, Danielle Harris, Michael Cerveris, Sean Nelson