OSW Review | Stake Land (2010)

Stake Land (2010)

Stake Land: Not a delicious restaurant, but Zombieland with Vampires!

Plot: In post-apocalyptic modern America, the humans have become isolated scavengers in a world overrun with vampires. These Vamps are fast-running, flesh-eating, enraged, infectious, mindless beings. So modern zombies, then!

Cast/Crew: Directed/written by Jim Mickle, starring Nick Damici as Mister (the man), Connor Paolo as Martin (the boy), Kelly McGillis as Sister (the woman) and Danielle Harris as Belle (the girl).

• What differentiates these Vamps from zombies? The protagonists use stakes (not guns), sometimes to the heart, sometimes to the head. There’s a scene where they bring up ‘classic’ ways to kill vampires, but it’s just a formality – this is a zombie flick.
• Looking at the map, someone’s marked an area as “Vampland” and another as “Vamped”. So 90s, brah! So gnarly!
• The humans travel from Shanty town to Shanty town, with a local group acting as law enforcement. I’m always a fan of modern people readjusting after a devastating sci-fi/horror event. Oddly, although society’s shrank to a small community, they still have full electricity (eg a working train; lights, beer, microphones etc).
• Killing via a stake eh? Sounds like crossbows or bow & arrows would be more commonplace, but it isn’t. Some townsfolk still use guns.
• There’s also the little matter of cannibals & religious zealots kidnapping people, so you’ve to be weary of people too.
• The three get ambushed by a local cult and get split up – an interesting direction, with good reasoning. The film trades in the old nun (Sister) for a pretty girl (Danielle Harris). Ha!
• Unfortunately, despite the great premise, it gets pretty boring. Martin (the boy) has a story arc of not being able to kill vamps – such a major hangup ends up being more annoying than this internal struggle you’re supposed to go along with.
• So that’s the other big problem – the film doesn’t get you to care about the characters, besides putting them in danger. They’re just not that likeable, they’re just regular, average people. So it’s not like Zombieland at all!
• Sorry to say, the fight sequences aren’t great – they’re one move pause, one move pause. It’s like shooting it went pretty poorly and they trimmed it down to the best they could do.
• Something I always like in zombie films, the vampires retain some memory and coherency despite their state.
• BEST bet in the film: the religious zealots broke up the town’s happy hoe-down by literally dropping vamps from a helicopter. Just great stuff! It’s like the film thought it was a bit boring and pressed some buttons to spruce it up. Worked a treat.
• There’s 7 webisodes available on YouTube that act as a prequel if you’re interested, that I’ve embedded below.

Overall, the premise of the movie is very interesting but it doesn’t come together; whatever pathos they’re trying to hit falls flat and there’s large portions of boring. It’s a shame because if you ran through the bullet-points of the plot on paper, it sounds like an excellent horror flick. This premise is definitely worth trying again. As it stands, it’s not great – Don’t recommend.

Here’s those webisodes if you wanna look-see:


Release Date
May 23, 2015