Review – Stakeland

Jim Mickle’s Stake Land ( available now on VOD) proves two things: 1. Successful horror movies not only realize their own limitations, but are able to play off of them effectively, making them work towards the story instead of against it and… 2. In Stake Land, only rednecks can hear you scream… oh yeah… apparently when the vampire apocalypse comes the only things left besides the cockroaches are the Duke boys…. **SPOILERS AHEAD** Following the cross country exploits of Mister ( Nick Demici) and his helper Martin (Connor Paolo) as they battle their way through a vampire ravaged America after Martins’s family is savagely murdred..err…eaten… Stake Land takes itself just seriously enough that the action, when it comes, never feels tired or old hat… just necessary. That is probably one of the stronger aspects of the film, and one that, in the end, makes it so successful. Stake Land manages to introduce a very large idea without making it bloated or a parody of itself. It hits the notes exactly as it should, and although it slows down a little towards the end of the second act, it keeps us interested by filling it with characters, even those that are only brief in the appearances. Don’t get me wrong when I nitpick for a bit of a lag. The boys and new recruit Belle (Danielle Harris) have plenty to do between saving nuns, escaping religious zealots and ultimately going head to head with holy roller turned uber vamp, the head of “the brotherhood”. The threats in Stake Land are all very real and add to the idea that the solidarity and safety of this country hangs tenuously by some very flimsy threads. It is in fact, the sociopolitical messages that people might find a little preachy here. They are ever present and definitely reinforce the overall dissent that gas prices and the war on terror have brought upon American’s citizens. Ok, ok… let’s get to the the meat of the matter… how are the vampires? The great thing about Stake Land is that in the strength of its characters we are able to see the vampires for exactly what the filmmakers intended them to be… a nice gory backdrop to a really nice, memorable character study. HOWEVER, in case you feel that was a bit of a cop out…. the vampires don’t waste any time in Stake Land. They are animals, they are a sickness and they are EXTREMELY aggressive. We don’t get bogged down in the science of it, but there is enough exposition to tell us that there are different kinds, some harder to kill than others, and, like most viruses, the plague has the ability to mutate. Oh… yeah, you get plenty of Deliverance extras here.. enough to shake your banjo, webbed feet and prehensile tails at. We do get the sense though that the better part of the country has been turned into Flint, MI, so it doesn’t seem like a reach. Being a midwest native, I had a few flashbacks and even found myself errantly praying to the patron saint of pig squealing man-love, Ned Beatty. Stake Land has gained a lot of acclaim in the horror community and it shows a self awareness that although might seem heavy on the message, is definitely welcomed in an industry that is increasingly mired in reboots, remakes and and endless direct to video sequels. Mickle is definitely a fresh voice and one to keep our eyes on. Highly Recommended.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Movie Reviews, Movies, Video/TV
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Ash Hamilton is not only the owner of, but also one of its major contributors. A long time horror movie enthusiast, Ash has lent his personality to radio and television and continues to support his favorite genre through his writing and art. He also loves beef jerky and puppies... and low-grade street-quality hallucinogens.

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