STAKE LAND (2010)
Another interesting horror from Jim Mickle, director of the cool indie chiller Mulberry St. Stake Land is a bloody horror tale set in a world that has been overrun by vicious and bloodthirsty vampires, not the glittering, poetry reading fops that populate contemporary stories to woo teenage girls, but murderous, savage, blood drinking monsters. The film follows a hardened vampire fighter simply know as “Mister” (co-writer Nick Damici) and a boy coming of age, Martin (Connor Paolo) as they travel across the desolate vampire infested wasteland. Sometimes the pockets of survivors they meet during the day, like the religious “Brotherhood” who feel the vampires are doing God’s work, are worse than the monsters that stalk the night. Along the way they pick up some stragglers like the pretty pregnant, Belle (Danielle Harris), ex-Marine, Willie (Sean Nelson) and nun, “Sister” (Kelly McGillis). They are all headed to New Eden, an area of Canada rumored be vampire free. The odds and fangs are stacked against them and they may not survive the trip to a place that may not even exist.
Stake Land is very bleak and sometimes very vicious and gory, but there is some innovative stuff along with the familiar vampire/apocalyptic trappings and some powerful scenes. Like with Mulberry St., Mickle knows how to add fresh twists to old favorites and create likable characters to populate his horror stories. He also creates some tense atmosphere, some nice scares and gets good performances from his cast. Despite the dark tone, Mickle still manages to give his tale a glimmer of hope that keeps us emotionally invested. The film also an effective visual style, it’s simple, but Mickle creates a lot of atmosphere with what he has to work with on a low budget.
A really good horror from an underrated filmmaker who I hope someday gets the attention he deserves. One of my top horrors from 2011 (It had a limited release in 2010, but I was not able to catch it until 2011 on DVD).
Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) stakes