Stakeland, another post apocalypse journey through was remains of the United States, brings very little to either genre. To a post apocalyptic world, its only contribution to some semblance of originality is that the disaster has been caused by an epidemic of vampires sweeping not only through the States, but also through the world. We learn, from an army deserter, although that epithet is no longer valid as the army has broken down, that the Middle East is gone to the vampires. The President is dead, although I wonder if the vampires would elect a president from their own ranks, and create a new nation, the United Vampires of America (UVA). Anyway, I digress here, as a vampire film, apart from their takeover of the world, no other original material has been added to the genre. Their depiction is just plain formulaic, at times so grotesque that laughter is the only possible response, and I am not talking of the giggles uttered to mask fear, but those to hide the ridiculous portrayal of our blood thirsty alter egos. The journey itself is just a succession of cinematic and storytelling clichés.
Stakeland follows Martin, a teenager, from the moment his family get slain by the vampiric shadows lurking and jumping at the first opportunity onto the surviving humans, as his father attempts to repair a getaway car, his little baby brother being eaten alive by one of the monsters, this scene being quite ridiculous, mainly because it was badly done, the “baby” could be spotted to be no more than a mannequin with little semblance to a real one miles away.
He teams up to an older man, Mister, a ruthless vampire hunter, in their journey towards a safe land, New Eden, in the North of Canada. Other people joins in their escape, including the above mentioned marine, and a pregnant teenager, who also meets a rather disagreeable end. They find the usual ruined landscape of this kind of cinema, abandoned cars, burned out houses, corpses everywhere, religious cults led by murderous fanatics, cannibals, and other kinds of antisocial individuals, apart from the mushrooming vampires.
In short, one for the horror films fans, Stakeland being a total vampire movie in this respect, I am sure they will enjoy it and scream their heads off. Otherwise, nothing new here. Connor Paolo puts a good performance as Martin, while Kellis McKillis is one of the bright spots of the film as the former nun trying to make some sense of this new world around her, not so brave, and introduce into it some humanity, some compassion into it. Danielle Harris gives a credible portrayal of the pregnant teen.
Following on from its acclaimed theatrical release, STAKE LAND comes to DVD and Blu Ray in October. Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl) plays, Martin, a normal teenager swept across an abandoned, not-so United States of America in the aftermath of a ferocious vampire epidemic. It’s up to Mister (Nick Damici, Mulberry Street, World Trade Center), a death dealing vampire hunter, to get Martin to safety. Armed with a trunk full of wooden stakes and a desperate will to stay alive, the pair make their way through locked down towns, recruiting fellow travellers along the way. Among them, a devout nun (Kelly McGillis, Top Gun) and a pregnant teen (Danielle Harris, Halloween)… As with his DVD hit, MULBERRY STREET, Director Jim Mickle creates a dark and terrifying world on the brink of collapse, this time bursting with the most vicious vampires in recent film history. Winner of the 2010 Toronto Film Festival Midnight Madness Audience Award and Audience Award For Best Feature At The Dead By Dawn Festival, STAKE LAND is a gritty, post-apocalyptic road movie with teeth!