Stake Land

Dir: Jim Mickle
Star: Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Michael Cerveris, Danielle Harris

It's the future, and a plague of vampires have reduced the land to a nightmare struggle for survival after dark, when the feral beasts roam the land, chewing down on anyone they come across. Riding across the blasted terrain are Martin (Paolo) and Mister (Damici), the vampire hunter who rescued him from the pack who killed the rest of his family. They're looking for "New Eden", a rumoured safe haven located in the North West somewhere. But to get there, they have to cope, not just with the vampires, but the likes of The Brotherhood, a group of religious fanatics led by Jebedia Loven (Cerveris), who believe the vampires to be the wrath of God, and any attempts to fight back are not just futile, but blasphemous. It doesn't help that Mister kills one of Jebedia's sons, while he's trying to rape a nun. They manage to capture Jebedia, and leave him to be eaten by the creatures he "worships": might not necessarily have been a good idea, shall we say.

It's a good scenario, and I also enjoyed see vampires that are genuinely wild and dangerous, with few or no redeeming qualities. However, what damages this is largely the lack of any significant arc for plot or characters. The setting and characters are largely laid out in the firt 30 minutes, and there's only about one interesting development thereafter. It does help that the performances are decent, but there's too much sense of this being a Zombieland knock-off, with vampires replacing zombies, and a darker, less humourous tone which suggests The Walking Dead was another influence. It also clearly has a much smaller budget, most obvious when a helicopter is represented entirely by sound effects and a spotlight, which really isn't fooling anyone [a tip: if you can't afford a real helicopter, don't put one in your script]. However, it doesn't hamper the effort too much, and it doesn't resort to long scenes of dialogue, an easy refuge of the cheap film-maker. Still, it had largely lost my interest by an ending which doesn't so much wrap things up as peter out. Nice try, yet severely flawed in a number of ways.

[March 2013]

Stake, fairly well-done
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