Stake Land (2011)

Stake Land (2011)

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"Hmm... vampires or Canada?"
“Hmm… vampires or Canada?”

Twitter Plot Summary: A road movie that takes place after vampires have spread across the world, zombie style.

Stake Land is an intriguing one. Combining the best elements of the vampire and zombie genres it has created something that is equally as good as the best both genres have to offer whilst branching out and putting something slightly different on the table. Like the still-beating heart of its victim, or something along those lines. Kali Ma!

The story takes place in a post-apocalypse setting which will be familiar to anybody who has ever enjoyed a George Romero zombie film. This time however it’s not that particular type of undead that has spread across the globe, but feral vampires. In many respects this is not too dissimilar to any other movie that features running zombies, but the feral vampires are slightly different to your common sprinting undead. As you might expect, it’s not just the vampires that our characters need to be wary of, and Stake Land proves to be another solid example of horror films exploring the human condition and how we would react in the face of our current society being thrown out of the window.

It’s a road movie that has no other purpose for the characters than to survive and find a place of safety – harder than it might sound when you have religious extremists dotted around the country and trying to enforce their intolerant hate spiel on all the non-believers they meet. Stake Land portrays this particular post-apocalypse setting as a godless mess, a hive of immorality where the worst aspects of human nature are given free reign to be explored. So, in other words, just like any other post-apocalyptic setting. The Brotherhood are an interesting example of the usual religious extremist depicted in film, notable for their logo which looks a lot like the face paint used by the Ultimate Warrior in the WWF/WWE.

That could be painful.
That could be painful.

There isn’t time to explore every secondary character’s past and motivations, but that’s fine because we do get an intriguing father/son relationship between the mysterious man known as Mister (Nick Damici) who rescues a boy called Martin (Connor Paolo) after his family are torn apart by vampires. Mister shows Martin all the tricks of the trade in order to protect himself from vampires and the living, giving him the skills to survive when the day eventually comes where Mister is not there to protect him. Much of their relationship is conveyed through scenes without dialogue, and is all the better for it.

For once the vampire and gore effects are excellent, clearly some serious thought was put into the effects budget. Likewise the cinematography and tone are moody and atmospheric. Thankfully it’s always clear where we are at all times despite the frequent lack of light. There is never the urge to keep the camera too close to the action either, so sequences such as where vampires are dropped from helicopters onto unsuspecting victims below have much more impact. No pun intended.

In many respects it’s a story that has been seen time and time again elsewhere, but there’s enough originality and twists on established tropes to maintain interest.

Score: 3.5/5

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