Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stake Land (Review)

Stake Land

Stake Land (2011)

Directed by Jim Mickle

When I saw the trailer for Jim Mickle's Stake Land, I have to say I got excited. Mickle's Mulberry Street to me is one of the best films to come out of the lame-o After Dark Horrorfests. So after tackling zombies, the next logical step has to be vampires right?

Stake Land draws a world of post apocalyptic America filled with non sparkly vampires and religious extremism taken to it's most extreme. Comparisons to The Road meets the Walking Dead meets Red State have to be made. And these are all good things in an above average flick. Characters come first in Stake Land, with eerie scenes of a wrinkled and abandoned America coming in second and finally fight scenes coming in at bronze.

There are no 3D gimmicks or star power to drive Stake Land. That's the beauty of a straight forward genre piece by Mickle. You're here to enjoy the road trip of these rag tag strangers who are looking for the mystical New Eden. Like in all road trips, you're going to get bored a few times along the way and Stake Land does suffer from stretches of boring nothingness. Not even a hint of dialogue to get more character development.

But clearly you have to take the good with the bad. Stake Land is a safe bet, a sunny day in a world of the bloody thirsty.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

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.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

No extensive review here. I'm sure you can browse through the IMDB external reviews to get what you need about plot and such. I'm going to just give you a few thoughts on the film via list form because well I can't come up with coherent sentences.
  • Mister (Nick Damici) is one badass vampire motherfuckin hunter. A tough guy's tough guy. No jokey slayer. Nuff said.
  • Martin is Daniel-son, padwan and youngling. I like how the opening credits are a freakin training montage.
  • Their one man wolfpack includes: a nun, the lovely pregnant Danielle Harris and a Marine brotha
  • I loved the backdrops of burnt out cars, houses and vampires hanging on ropes. Just great post apocalyptic scenery bordering on a Hollywood set design. This might not be to far off from the real America.
  • Jebedia and the Brotherhood seems like a extreme satire on all that is Republican religious right wing nutzoids. I know these people actually exist but in Stake Land they come out as a crazy cult bent on survival. It seem to unbelievable to me but I'll give it a pass
  • The American government and military seem so half ass in a vampire apocalyptic world. I would hope they wouldn't fold this easy.
  • The father-son relationship between Mister and Martin is solid, pretty much the driving force of the flick.
  • The action scenes are straightforward. Gunshots, slicing and dicing, stake through the hearts, yada yada yada.
  • Who dies first...the nun or the brotha?
  • The final battle is sad and sadder and saddest
  • The ending is clearly a nod to all zombie flick endings
Stake Land is indie horror with a precision pulse on the genre. A lot of indie films try to emulate a post apocalyptic world be it zombies or vampires but Stake Land is one of the few that does it right. It's a little slow at times, yes even boring at points, the characters aren't totally flushed out, a few hiccups with the plot and story but all are minor grievances in an otherwise fresh take on the vampire run amok genre.

I can only guess where Mickle will go next. Maybe werewolves? How about a regular slasher flick? Maybe even a killer shark. I can see Mickle headed towards some big budget remake and I'm praying that doesn't happen.

That would be a stake right through my fuckin heart.




Your standard stuff

WTF moment

Danielle Harris.....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

The movie is now out on DVD via IFC Films. I'm sure you can Netflix it or whatever. It's a good solid 140 min and has a few themes running through it for the more intellectual horror fan. You'll definitely leave feeling like you've seen a solid horror flick.

The Vitals



  1. Niiiice, love that this flick is getting so much attention.

    Thought Harris gave a much better performance here than in Hatchet II. Always liked her, but she seems more on point in Stake Land. All around, the acting is incredible.

  2. Mickle is definitely bound for good things, as long as he avoids the remake route like you said. Mulberry Street was indeed the best of the After Dark films, and one of my personal favorites of the past ten years. I still have to watch the second half of Stake Land (I was a bit intoxicated and passed out on the couch midway through... oops) but from what I have seen so far I love it.