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Stake Land

by

Jeff Nelson

Stake Land is what The Road wishes it could have been.

Stake Land
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We've been overloaded with post-apocalyptic films for quite some time now. I believe that this has to do with the year 2012 approaching. Stake Land is surely part of this genre, but throws vampires into the mix. This movie went under the radar of most moviegoers. Fortunately, the vamps are more towards those seen in 30 Days of Night and farther away from Twilight. I hope to see this trend of portraying vampires as vicious and brutal continue. A lot of the modern movies in this sub-genre attempt to receive the mainstream audiences. In order to get younger audiences, a lot of these titles aim for a PG-13 rating. With Stake Land being one for the fans of real vampires, we get a hard R rating. I realize that R rated horror is in danger, but Dark Sky Films has supporting these films by distributing them. The true horror fans can only hope that R rated horror survives.

A drifter by the name of Mister trains young Martin to survive the nightmare that has become America as they journey to New Eden. While they combat the mutated bloodsuckers and vicious humans seeking to rule the land, Mister and Martin rescue other wanderers and become a tightly knit family of warriors. While there are major differences, many compare Stake Land's apocalyptic world to the one seen in The Road. Those who have read my review for that are aware that I wasn't too fond of the movie. The screenplay is definitely an improvement over the one written for The Road. Both titles handle the characters well. The dialogue is generally good, but has moments where it's a bit weak in comparison. As the characters are recruited, we get to understand each role in the group. However, the film is told from Martin's perspective so we never really get the point of view from any of the other characters. The pacing is good as there isn't even one boring part of the movie. The plot points are a tad predictable at times, but it isn't much of an issue. This may look like a horror film, but it feels like much more than that. Multiple genres collide. The script is certainly successful in engrossing the audience into the story.

While there aren't any fantastic performances that will stick with you, all of the actors puts on a fitting representation of the characters. Connor Paolo is certainly believable as Martin. Nick Damici delivers a good performance as Mister. Horror fans will be very pleased to see Danielle Harris as Belle. She doesn't receive much dialogue, but she expresses her character well. Kelly McGillis performs as the Sister and gives a decent performance. Michael Cerveris is a great villain as Jebedia Loven, an insane religious fanatic. This cast successfully bring the characters to life.

Since Stake Land takes place in America after the apocalypse, there aren't many bright colors. The tone of the film is dark and gloomy, which is to be expected. The cinematography is fantastic from start to finish. As mentioned previously, this is a hard R. None of the violence is sugar coated. All of the battles with the vampires are entertaining and full of blood. Gorehounds are sure to be pleased with the amount of bloodshed. The audio is equally impressive. Both of the surround speakers are put to excellent use. All of the dialogue is crisp in the center channel. The score brings a distinct sound to the film. The technical side of this film is impressive.

I wasn't sure how my opinions of Stake Land would turn out. I enjoyed it more than I thought. The characters are interesting and are supported by a well-written screenplay. The actions sequences are thrilling just as the dialogue-driven scenes pull me deeper into the movie. This is one of the better post-apocalyptic movies to be released recently. This movie definitely deserves more recognition than it has received. I can only hope that more audiences will find this on Blu-Ray/DVD and check this out. Stake Land is what The Road wishes it could have been.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

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