Movie Review: Stake Land (2011)

Vampires. Creatures that have been used in fiction more times than I can count. Sometimes they’re scary, sometimes they’re sexy, sometimes they suck (Looking at you “Twilight”, also, pun intended). What I’m trying to say is that vampires are very versatile things that you can utilize all kinds of ways in movies/TV/books/games.

Ladies and gents, welcome to… “Stake Land”.

After his family gets killed by a vicious vampire, Martin (Connor Paolo) finds himself teamed up with a mysterious man called Mister (Nick Damici). And these two set out to travel through the vampire infested United States to get to a potentially safe place called New Eden. I have to say that I was a bit surprised by the plot of this movie. While at first it just seems like a straightforward road trip movie featuring vampires, it soon shows it’s true colors. Seeing our main two work together trying to survive is really interesting, and I found myself really invested in their journey. This concept could’ve turned out really lazy and bad, but it was handled really well.

The characters in this movie are all very well fleshed out and I found them really interesting. Nick Damici was really good as Mister, playing him as the mostly silent badass. Connor Paolo was great as Martin, perfectly playing this damaged yet still somewhat hopeful young man. Kelly McGillis plays a nun that our heroes meets along the way and she was really good. Danielle Harrisplays a woman that Mister and Martin meets on their journey and she was really good in her role. Michael Cerveris plays a crazy cultist in the movie and he was really good. We also got Sean Nelson as another guy that our heroes meets in the movie and he was really good. All the performances were really good.

The score was composed by Jeff Grace and holy shit it was fantastic! It was haunting, it was dramatic, and it was quite eerie. Sure, at a few points it did sound like Nick Cave’s and Warren Ellis’ score for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”, but I didn’t actually mind too much… probably because I fucking love the score for that movie. But those parts did still sounds different enough to not bother me too much. And the bits that didn’t sound like the score from that other movie, they were quite awesome.

This movie was directed by Jim Mickle and he did a pretty damn good job. The shots look great and his direction overall feels very tense and uneasy, which helps add to the already eerie atmosphere. It’s also quite impressive considering the small budget they had. Now, I can’t find any exact numbers, but considering it’s an independent horror movie made by a then pretty much unknown director I can only assume that the budget wasn’t that big. But despite that it manages to have some pretty badass makeup effects, props, and various other effects.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 66/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,5/10.

“Stake Land” is an extremely impressive indie vampire film. It has a great plot, good characters, really good performances, great music, great directing, and great effects. Time for my final score. *Stabs vampire in it’s heart*. My final score for “Stake Land” is a 9,56/10. This of course means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Stake Land” is now completed.

You could say that for the characters there was a lot… at stake…

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