Story: A plague has broken out. People turn into vampires, and they’re hungry. A young boy is saved by a mysterious stranger called Mister, and together with a few other survivors, they look for “New Eden”. Unfortunately, vamps aren’t the only dangerous thing roaming around….
Scares: Low key, but effective, and scattered throughout.
Splat factor: Lots of icky black blood, and gory-tastic makeup FX! No overkill, which makes the splat even more effective.
Closing scene “shocker”: No.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul): 100% original.
Trick or Treat?: Stake Land is a slow burn horror movie. The kind that feels like it’s what could happen if something like a vampire plague really did happen. It’s not fun, it’s not exciting. It’s rough, painful, dirty and exhausting. And it’s good. Think of an episode of The Walking Dead if it was vamps instead of zombies, and if everyone was exhausted. Yeah.
I hesitated on this film because as far as I knew, it was a straight to video wonder. However, it got great buzz at TIFF, and positive reviews during it’s brief theatrical run. But it’s almost a four star rating at the ‘Flix, so I figured I’d give it a try. Stake Land has a Near Dark vibe to it, but where Near Dark was a western underneath, Stake Land is more a traveling, post-apocalyptic buddy pic. Y’know, without the jokes.
There’s a few actors you may recognize here; Kelly McGillis (Top Gun), Michael Cerveris (Fringe) and Danielle Harris (Annie from Rob Zombie’s Halloween series) and they bring it like this movie is an Oscar contender. That kind of talent helps this film avoid turning into a boring shamble from one place to another. So does the subplot of a crazy bunch of survivors called The Brotherhood, religious fanatics that believe they know why this is happening, and woe unto anyone who doesn’t fall in line.
With it’s low key vibe, Stake Land may not fit in with the usual hyper horror films in an all night marathon. But pair it with Near Dark, Identity, and maybe the campy but fun John Carpenter’s Vampires? You’ve got yourself a mellow little existential horror-a-thon.
Psst: check out the prequel webisodes on YouTube – they’re very cool.