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I am a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre. In recent years we have seen
cannibalism, zombies and vampires mixed in the storyline. Worthy to
note, 'The Road', 'The Book of Eli', 'I am Legend', 'Zombieland'.
My personal opinion is, I am very impressed with Stake Land, in terms of being a very well made film. You simply have to admire the cinematography (lighting and shooting style was responsible for the realism factor), storyline (character development was top notch), production (realistic locations and sets), directing (credit to the director & his team) and acting (thumbs up).
I can declare this is one of the best post-apocalyptic movie of the decade.
I saw this movie because I love post-apocalyptic movies. The idea of a
world with less human beings meddling with it always looks enticing.
Its the same reason why we take vacations in remote locations.
First thing you will notice about Stake Land is it looks great. I am not much familiar with the cast except Connor Paolo. The actors act naturally which looks great in a film such as this. The plot is simple. It is a story of survivors of a vampire epidemic. But its the execution of the plot which is why this movie is so good. The director knows what he can and cant do. 10 out of 10 for the director's efforts.
Lastly, I wont say its a different movie than the rest of vampire movies coming out these days. But Stake Land should be watched because it has the ability to suck you in its environment within the first 10 minutes. And trust me it never lets it go.
I checked out the IMDb rating for this before deciding to watch it at the cinema and decided it was worth a trip at 6.8, horror flicks rarely creep above 8 as they are generally poorly acted with little or no depth to the story. Not many scary films keep you gripped but this one hit the spot for me. The acting was generally very good, the sets first class and the story went at a nice steady pace with just the right amount of horror thrown in to keep you on your toes. If you enjoyed The Road you will love this as it makes you think, you find yourself putting yourself in the characters shoes and there are lots of subtle things in the movie where actions not words set the scene. If you are looking for a mindless blood fest or sexy vampires then give this a miss, if however you are looking for a horror film with an actual story and some decent acting then sit back and enjoy.
Synopsis: Orphaned Martin is taken under the wing of bad-ass Mister as
they travel across vampire-ravaged America in search of the refuge
known as 'New Eden'.
Aside from the fairly frequent jumps, scares and gore, Stake Land feels surprisingly subdued for a recent horror film. With its melancholic tone, ravaging of the religious right and focus on characters over action, the film succeeds in being a bit more thoughtful than many of its contemporaries. And don't go into this expecting sanitized, pretty-boy vampires a-la-Twilight. These monsters are old school to the core- more like zombies than modern takes on vampires; all ferocious snarls and messed up faces. With fairly few jumps or scenes that are likely to scare a grizzled horror fan, Stake Land is easier to recommend for its realistic world-building, mournful soundtrack and interesting, well-drawn characters.
Opening with Martin's voice-over as he introduces himself and his traveling companion, the enigmatic father figure and teacher, Mister, the film quickly flashes back to a vicious encounter between Martins family and the horrific vampires. Sticking with most of the rules of the vampire myth, it is soon established that stakes and sunlight are still useful in this tale of vamp vs human conflict. The pace is deliberately slow and the film painstakingly constructs a very authentic feeling vision of post-apocalyptic America. Guarded communities living in fear while supplies dwindle, drinking and sleeping together in packed bars until the sun rises and religious nutjobs taking over the wilderness to rape and murder as they please. It is this rendering of the Christian crazies that strikes the biggest false note in the story, feeling over-blown and too simple for the subtleties of much of the rest of the story and character drawing.
The cast are great, particularly Nick Damici as Mister who delivers a convincing performance with the familiar role of mean old git with a soft heart underneath. Kelly McGillis is barely recognizable as a constantly victimized nun (bet she must be wondering what happened to the days of getting jiggy with Tom Cruise in a Navy uniform) and the youngsters, especially Connor Paolo are good in their less demanding roles. It's particularly nice to see Danielle Harris still working, even if she has lost some of the spunk of her early appearance as Bruce Willis' daughter way back in The Last Boy Scout.
Jim Mickle should be applauded for his direction; the film works very well as a whole, with good performances from the cast, a bleak soundtrack and pacing that could have easily been spoiled by trying to appeal to a bigger audience. It is a brave movie; not overly rushed and taking its time to build to its understated climax. The action and horror are handled well and the villain is a right nasty piece of work that should stick in the memory.
The film is most memorable for its details of life after the vampires take over. The small communities that have popped up round the country feel realistic and lived in. A sense of community, of something we have lost to some extent in 2011 shines through and gives the film a nostalgic feel, as if the vampire apocalypse may help America return to a simpler, more caring time. The positioning of the cult of Christian crazies dropping 'bombs' on peaceful communities and their obsession with deliverance and the 'will of God' is the least subtle and most forceful of themes on display and does feel a little OTT in places but the journey of the characters and their encounters with ordinary folk ground the film and make up for its excesses in other areas.
Stake Land is a very well made film and can be enjoyed as a simple horror film but also as an experience of a post-apocalyptic society and the highs and lows of living in a world with a drastically reduce population.
Ever since the success of 28 Days Later back in 2002, the post-
apocalyptic genre of films has been a crowded market with its fair
share of successes and failures. Notable releases such as The Road and
Zombieland have been accompanied by such misfires as Doomsday and I Am
Legend that, whilst entertaining, ultimately failed to hit their mark.
Stakeland is a brave and accomplished entry in Jim Mickle's career, and
although there are only a handful of original ideas throughout the
film, the ideas taken from other movies are handled with enough skill
that they serve only to enhance the overall viewing experience. It must
be said, some of the director's own ideas are fantastic and show a
great potential for the future - a future that the ragged band of
survivors we follow throughout Stakeland may not be able to enjoy.
After our protagonist is saved from a disastrous situation which leaves him as the sole survivor of his family, he is taken under the wing of his rescuer; the elusive 'Mister', whose similarities to Whistler from Blade appear to be more than pure coincidence. Together,they embark on a road trip that tests them to their very limits as they encounter a whole host of dangers and struggle to survive whilst roaming throughout North America, picking up a number of travelling companions on the way.
In a storyline not too dissimilar to The Mist, some surviving factions of humans believe that God has sent the vampires to punish humanity and it is these that pose almost as much danger to our band of travellers as the dangerous breeds of vampire that stalk them. These cults are a welcome addition to the film, enhancing the aspect of danger and providing the basis for some of the film's more memorable moments in a standout scene where a supposedly safe town is assaulted from the air.
The initially nameless main character - played brilliantly by Connor Paolo (the spitting image of a young Colin Farrel) - has his life turned upside down at the start of the movie, however, we do not get to see how the whole world initially turned upside down, and the cause of the vampire's origins is rarely touched upon. His story is told through countless monologues that overlay the fantastic imagery of sparse vistas and urban decay, creating a sense of scale that is far beyond what we see on the screen. Whilst the other characters we meet do not have enough time to develop fully, they all play an essential part in the story, and although some scenes could have been far more powerful if the audience were affected by their plight, the suspense was enough to keep me on my edge of the seat throughout.
There are few scares to be found in Stakeland but the overall sense of foreboding doom and the generous helpings of violence and gore should please the majority of horror fans. Anyone with even a passing interest in post-apocalyptic films will definitely take a lot from Stakeland and although it is not quite a genre classic, it will certainly become a cult favourite in a few years time.
If you like this, you will love these:
The Road, 28 Days Later, Near Dark, The Signal
Jim Mickle has crafted a complete world of bad guys, vampires, and
enough evil people to make the entire paranoid world. This is one of
the most complete-feeling pictures I've seen in a long time. The
characters really feel like they're in this alternate universe of Mad
Max meets I Am Legend.
Also, you will learn many important tips for surviving the coming zombie/alien/vampire apocalypse. Cyclone fencing and chicken wire over your car's windows when you sleep at night. And garlic oil on your stake doesn't hurt.
There are some beautiful images in this movie too, with wonderful performances throughout. Now get out of my way, I gotta go kill some vampires...
After reading some of these reviews, i thought they were a bit harsh.
But with that said, i respect there opinions about this movie.
I enjoyed this movie, from start to finish i was well entertain, sure it's gloomy, the story is simple, the action was good, and so was the script, there might not have been many words spoken in the movie, but it fits in well to make you feel like immerse in there gloomy Vamp filled world.
Everyone in the movie acted well yes, there is no big name actors, and i'm happy about that. You don't need big name actors to make a good movie.
Not sure what other people expected from Stake Land, but i got what i expected, survivors trying to survive, not just trying to survive against vamps, but also against human desperation and cruelness.
Decent acting, decent script, great movie, 9 out of 10
Watched this film last night and was amazed at the level of suspense kept throughout the picture. From the opening scene to the final credits it manages to keep you on edge, mostly with clever use of flicking backwards and forwards between day and night so regularly. The whole post apocalyptic world portrayed is fantastically grey and creepy and the addition of a religious fundamelist outfit takes the film to another level. The acting is solid and all of the main characters hold their own independently. Nick Damici should be proud of his writing and acting in this and also newcomer director Jim Mickle will be one to watch out for in the future. All in all if you like vamp films then this is an interesting twist on the genre, definitely a must see !
While I did enjoy this movie, I am by no means in love with it. To me
it seems a bit like a modern True Grit mixed with I Am Legend. Bear in
mind that's not a bad thing. I'm just using a reference to recent
movies as a context. Although I will say that I am already a bit
dismayed with the whole sub-genre of "Let's get to the last piece of
unspoiled humanity by killing our way through zombies/vampires/what
I like to think the film is really more about the bond that holds humanity together rather than killing vampires to get to some fabled promised land. Sure, killing bad guys is fun, but it's rather meaningless without knowing why the characters protect each other. I quite like the whole "Us against the world" feel of the film. To me the plot line was only so-so, but what really got my attention was the acting. Certainly not Oscar material, but everyone is just about perfect for their part. When all is said and done, I'd definitely recommend it for what it is...I just kind of wish it didn't have to be all about vampires.
By far the best horror film I've seen this year and probably going to be the contender for best horror film of 2011 just about beating Black Death. The film is full of dread, macabre, terror, pain and sadness but also filled with hope. The acting is surprisingly good for a independent, low-budget vampire/apocalypse flick with Nick Damici and Connor Paolo being the standout and to me breakthrough performances as vampire hunters on a journey to salvation. The atmosphere,vampires and unbalanced human beings doing evil deeds against one another sends chills down my spine and is terrifying and raw that makes this movie stand above the rest of its kind and raises the bar for vampire/apocalypse movies, it packs a bleak punch. The movie kind of though goes through similar territory from movies like The Road, Carriers, Daybreakers, Zombieland without the comedy aspect and a dose of Black Death but it still manages to stand on its own and it's very novel in its own right. The movie is pretty brutal throughout and doesn't hold back and is definitely not for the faint of heart or the easily offended and that's what I like about this movie because it's very bold and brave and is balls to the wall type of attitude that's rare and usually can't be found in most wide released, mainstream horror flicks and it's like a present to fans who like their vampire movies hard and mean and are sick of movies like Twilight who are giving them a bad name, so thanks for this movie it's a gem! Overall I was impressed and a movie like this deserves all the fans it can get and deserves a wide release and not shocking it doesn't because Hollywood is too dense to see a great movie even if it slaps it in the face! The ending left it open for a sequel so I really hope we get to see the light of day of Stake Land 2, bring it on geniuses. Highly recommended! 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.
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