Monday, October 3, 2011


Director: Jim Mickle
Writers: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle
Starring: Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Danielle Harris
2010 | United States | R | 98 mins

Jim Mickle and Nick Damici made a film called Mullberry St. for $60,000 back in 2006. This was an infection film with a fresh perspective and nods to films such as the original Night of the Living Dead. Quite a surprise, well scripted, and thoroughly entertaining it has been a bit of a wait for their next effort, Stake Land, a post-apocalyptic tale involving a different kind of vampire which seems to blur the line between blood-sucker and the infected undead.

After an infection that turns humans into feral blood-suckers seemingly wipes out the entire country, chaos and anarchy ensue and freedom is up in the air. Martin (Connor Paolo), a young teen, is rescued by Mister (Nick Damici), a grizzled man who has turned to hunting these vampires. The two embark on a journey heading North to New Eden, a place they believe will be free of the blood-suckers. Along their journey they not only have to fear for the vamps, but also a religious fundamentalist group called The Brotherhood who believe God has sent the vampires to cleanse the earth. With the help of some other survivors along the way they may have a chance at making it to New Eden.

Stake Land is a cross between films such as The Road, 28 Days Later, and Near Dark. All three however are far superior. While Stake Land has promise, it takes itself way too seriously considering it has a lot of one-liners and humour misplaced along with the bleak setting. Nick Damici plays a hard-ass who picks his lines directly from the Bruce Campbell School of Witty Remarks Handbook and Connor Paolo's Martin narrates needless information during sequences where the visuals already tell what is or has been going on. Characters are introduced and killed off without much structure to the plot other than to be stereotypical plot markers, and the religious commentary is quite heavy-handed.

Quite a big step down for the ingenuity and writing of Mulberry St., Mickle and Damici seem to want to borrow too much from other genre films than find their own voice for Stake Land. If you view the film as more of a campy action film, it can be a bit of fun and it does have a few things going for it. The cinematography, colour pallet, and production design are all quite good. Overall though it is loosely structured, lazily written, the ending vampire segment really ruins a few of the minor things it had going for it, and the actual ending itself is a laugh. As a serious vampire post-apocalyptic tale Stake Land fails, but if you can watch it with some camp value in mind it can be somewhat entertaining.

All contents copyright 2011 Tyler Baptist

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