Last night I took an impromptu trip to the cinema to see Stake Land as I noticed it showing locally… impromptu as I have been looking out for the film but it didn’t seem to be appearing in my local region and then suddenly the local Odeon had it on.
This is not going to be a film that wows those looking for action films or pretty boy vampires. That has to be said at the beginning and, in a moment of public complaint, perhaps if that had been explained to the four ‘selfless’ individuals, who clearly were not impressed with the film, before they entered the cinema then they might not have proceeded to talk through the film until I shushed at them and they left the cinema.
Now, winding back from that and focusing on the film, it is worth reminding ourselves that the post-apocalyptic vampire story is, in the form of I am Legend, the spiritual progenitor of the zombie genre, inspiring as it did Night of the Living Dead. Thus this is a vampire film that goes back to those post-apocalyptic roots and creates a vampire that is a snarling, blood lusting killer running on instinct and spreading its plague across the planet. As per more modern infected/zombie conventions it is a creature that can run, however it is not just a vampire that is kind of like a zombie. Vampire lore holds and it is killable by stake through the heart, sunlight and severing the spinal column – Mister (Nick Danici), the vampire hunter of the piece, suggests that the vampires use the reptilian part of the brain and cutting it off is like throwing a kill switch.
|Connor Paolo as Martin|
|are vampires the real monsters?|
Counterbalanced against that is the hope that exists, be it in the thought of New Eden, the pockets of community still managing to exist and in some cases flourish, and in the camaraderie that builds between Martin, Mister and the various rag-tag travellers that travel with them. However the film isn’t content for us to have hope. The Brotherhood will, by breaking through barriers or using choppers to drop them, destroy these pockets of hope using vampires and the film itself will take these fellow travellers away from Martin with little or no sympathy.
The acting and casting was bob on, especially in respect of Nick Damici who, despite his character’s background remaining mysterious (though more is offered in an official, online, character portrait), manages to draw a hard, world weary but caring character. We do get a cameo from Larry Fessenden who was also a producer of the film and was himself behind the genre films Habit and I Sell the Dead. The soundtrack was an interesting part of the film, mournful would be the best description and it really set an atmosphere that suggested that the film wasn’t meant to be the action or horror picture that some might have expected.
I thoroughly enjoyed Stake Land (ill-mannered cinema patrons not withstanding), though I could understand why it might fail to hit the buttons for other viewers. The IMDb page is here. (Article images sourced from Google images)