Directed by: Jim Mickle
Release year: 2011
Lead actors: Conner Paolo, Nick Damici
Summary: Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation’s abandoned towns and cities, and it’s up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent’s New Eden.
The good: Stake Land is an IFC Midnight release.. That’s pretty much all the motivation I needed to drive an hour and a half away to see it at a midnight screening. Not that IFC Midnight guarantees it’s a good film, but it’s enough to grab my attention. (Plus, I’m a sucker for midnight movies and will use any excuse to visit Circle Cinema.)
Stake Land makes great use of a modest budget. I never felt like it was lacking on gore. I’d even go as far as to say that it uses a tasteful amount of brutality.. Meaning that there wasn’t any point that I felt like things went overboard. The acting was impressive for a no name cast. I felt like Mickle did a good job building intensity and, thank God, actually took time to develop the characters enough that I actually cared what happened to them and felt genuinely upset when they got picked off.
The thing about the movie that I loved the most though, is the breed of vampire they created. It was more of a vampire-zombie hybrid. Unlike your classic vampire, they were not sexy. They we’re grotesque and vicious. They lack the ability to communicate.. instead they only make that guttural sound we’re use to hearing in Romero films. Unlike your classic zombies though, these suckers are fast and they don’t want to eat you, they’re only interested in your blood.So how do you kill a zombie-vamp hybrid? Stake them in the heart of sever their spinal cord – your pick.
The bad: While they did take adequate time to develop the characters, I still felt like there were numerous backstory holes that could’ve been filled in to make it more powerful. My biggest issue though, was the ending. I found myself thinking, “Man, the runtime is only 98 minutes. How are they gonna wrap this up in the next 10?” My answer – They aren’t.. kinda. It wasn’t the most frustrating ending I’ve ever seen.. I get what they were implying happened, but there were still too many variables to end it like they did.
Don’t let the weak ending throw you though. The film is still definitely worth seeing if you can manage to get your hands on it. Just know that if things had ended differently, I could’ve potentially bumped up my rating a full point.
IMDB rating: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 77% (Fresh)
My rating: 7.5
Side note to fellow Boy Meets World junkies: If Belle looks familiar to you, she is. She played Harley’s sister, Theresa (T.K.) Keiner. She was also Roseanne’s neighbor, Molly Tilden.. You know, the one that Darlene hated because she kept hitting on David. Now you don’t have to be distracted trying to figure out how the heck you know her throughout the whole movie. You’re welcome.