Stake Land (2011) – Review

Stake Land (2011)

Directed by: Jim Mickle
Written by: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici
Starring: Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Danielle Harris

While watching Stake Land, one might get the feeling it’s just another Zombieland, without the fun and the zombies.
The movie itself has been compared to horror gems, like Romero’s movies, or Mad Max, I Am Legend, The Road and Book Of Eli. Even though it drags enough elements from each of them, I think Stake Land manages to show to the world what Romero was trying all these years with his zombie flicks.
When you watch Stake Land, you get the feeling of loneliness, that aching pain that doesn’t shut up when you go to bed, the constant fear you have to fight for every breath of fresh air. You also witness the decay of human society – a lesson which you should’ve learnt with the first Night Of The Living Dead films, or along with The Descent and 28 Days Later.
It’s a sharp and sincere movie, with clean cut scenes, but filled with human filth – the real threat out there is not the vamps, but the humans. People have gone crazy in search for a god, mistaken any voice with some kind of power for a Messiah.
It’s a coming of age movie, where the central character gets tougher with every step he takes, but inside he is still the same innocent child missing his family. His companion is a rough man, who barely speaks, motivated by his hatred for vampires, but he is also a noble man, who tries to help anyone he can, keep them safe and not get them in trouble.
I’ve heard a lot of praise for the acting, and when you watch the movie itself, you understand that there are no other actors who could’ve done this job better. Begining with Paolo (who plays Martin) and Damici (Mister), and ending with Cerveris (Jebedia), I think they were all great in their respective roles and they couldn’t have been cast better. Every character is very realistic, their pain seems real and their happiness, though rare and short-lived, is sincere and intense.
What might strike you as a problem – the lack of special effects – I view it as a plus. Special effects distract you from the film as a whole, you don’t get to notice the actors, the director’s hand, the writer’s script. Instead, this movie is based on outdoor shooting, leaving little to the imagination of the viewer, forcing him/her to take the story as it is. We are acquainted with a dry land, almost deserted I might say, inhabited by vampires and crazy religious followers. A land where humanity and humanism are just lost concepts, and
where every turn might be a last turn.
I really thought the music was great for the movie. I only observed it during Martin’s trail of thoughts, although I might be wrong. It’s soothing and peaceful, almost like his inner self, only to be disrupted by vamps or other villains. This brought back memories from The Last House On The Left (1972), where the same kind of music was used, in a slightly different way.
All in all, this film was a great way to spend a boring Sunday afternoon and I would recommend it not only to horror flicks fans, but to drama lovers also – if they can get past all the blood and violence.
In the end, all you have left is hope.

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