Once again we find ourselves in the wasteland full of bloodthirsty creatures with this surprisingly serious movie. If you couldn’t figure it out from the title, Stake Land is a post-apocalyptic horror movie featuring vampires, hence the need for stakes. We will be following a young man who, after the murder of his family, joins a veteran vampire hunter known only as The Mister. So, basically, we have The Road structure strapped onto the body of B movie. However, the production values, the cinematography, and direction were all excellent.
Stake Land is a movie that punches way above its weight. Just don’t let the intense opening 15 minutes fool you, the pacing is rather slow. This gives us ample time to fully immerse ourselves in a bleak and unforgiving world. I wish the movie had a bit more action, especially since the ones that are there, were handled excellently. Especially when you consider the fact that the budget for the movie was just $625.000. I also want to clarify that the creatures we see in Stake Land are not your classical vampires. They’re not zombies either but a blend of these two species. Let’s just call them Zompires and leave it at that.
One of the more perplexing questions within the movie’s logic is why people want to have sex with a middle-aged nun. I mean, I know it’s the post-apocalypse and everything but still… Although I will admit that I loved the whole religious angle in this movie. It hit me much harder than it should because of the atrocity that is The Book of Eli. Stake Land offers a video game structure carefully subduing its propensity for epic action scenes. The movie is more focused on the relationship between our two lead characters and the features of this brave new world.
A world that reminds me of the Fallout video game world. It even has the Brotherhood, only it’s not of Steele but of Racism. It’s fully fleshed out and feels lived in. We will stay in carefully guarded small towns, abandoned factories and all the usual locations from the post-apocalyptic subgenre. And since most of the action happens during the night, there’s a clear sense of danger as it gets darker and darker. Of course, during the day, you have to contend with gangs and other survivors looking for resources so you could argue that the sense of danger is omnipresent. After all, this is a post-apocalyptic, dog-eat-dog world.
Martin is a young man who barely survives his first encounter with the vicious creatures of the night who now rule the world. A global pandemic has turned ordinary people into bloodthirsty vampires wreaking havoc during nighttime. The man who helped Martin stay alive is known only as The Mister, a skilled vampire killer eager to pass on his knowledge. The two of them now must travel the wasteland in search of New Eden. This mysterious place seems to be free of vampires and is the only hope for the survivors. However, they first have to get there avoiding creatures, gangs, tribes, and other players.
Nick Damici and Connor Paolo played their roles straight, giving committed and believable performances. I crave movies like Stake Land. They offer a different kind of narrative and atmosphere than the big ones like Zombieland or 28 Days Later. I want that authentic B movie vibe showing that you can make a great movie on a budget. If you’re looking for similar movies, I recommend you check out Daylight’s End, a more action-oriented post-apocalyptic experience.
Director: Jim Mickle
Writers: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle
Cast: Danielle Harris, Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Sean Nelson, Chance Kelly, Kelly McGillis
Fun facts: The director of this movie, Jim Mickle plays the banjo guy in a bar. And the guy who wrote the script is Nick Damici who plays The Mister.