Director: Jim Mickle
This cruel and unusual film follows a young man named Martin and a vampire hunter named simply Mister, as they traverse the vampire infested countryside of the now defunct
With a great group of unknown actors,
Stepping up as a sort of vampire hunter in training is the character of Martin, played by Connor Paolo. His role is a rather challenging one, for it’s one of the only ones that have a defined character arch to it. Martin is rescued early on in the film by Mister and when they first meet, Martin is for the most part, passive and timid. With the help of Mister, he begins to come into his own and find a place for himself within this savage new world. In summary, the character of Martin depicts a coming of age kind of story, where we get to see the confidence grow inside this individual character until he is comfortable in his own skin. Paolo does a commendable job in bringing it all together, playing the innocent and naive parts to perfection, while tackling some of the more mature elements of the character with great skill. It’s wonderful to see Martin grow as the film moves along and Paolo should get a great deal of credit for pulling this tricky role off.
There are so many amazing aspects of this production that I find myself having trouble figuring out what to tackle next, but first I have to mention that the movie world of Stake Land looks absolutely breathtaking in that distraught and dysfunctional kind of way. Everything just looks like all hell has broken loose and there really isn’t a single moment in this film that you don’t understand with stark realization that this is society at its most dire and low form. What’s also notable about the visual breadth of this film is that the destruction of the landscapes are filmed in a surprisingly beautiful way, twisting the conceptual notion of what beauty truly is, and in the process making for some very poetic moments. By contrasting vistas littered with decaying bodies against the harmonious look of the expansive wooded landscapes that surround this picture, the film comes off as an obscure mixture of both life and death.
Added on top of this visual approach, is a striking soundtrack that both pulls at the heart strings, but also rips them out, all in one bombastic motion. There’s even a heavy dose of religious overtones, featuring both its positive and negatives effects on this disheveled society. These hard hitting moments are powerful in their execution and weigh heavy on the surviving crews shoulders, making their struggle as equally challenging on the mental front as well as the physical. It’s a duel functionality that works quite well in the movie. The combination of all of these elements makes for a complete aesthetic package that is just wonderful to behold. Bets are that you won’t likely see a horror film with this much class and substance in quite a long time.
With the more poetic portions of this film set aside,
The characters are also well thought out and believable, giving us something to hold on to and root for. Their journey becomes our journey, and in that mind set we become more invested in this frightening world where life can be extinguished in an instant. Both Nick Damici and Connor Paolo do an amazing job as the front runners of this picture, and each actor brings a special quality to their individual character’s personality. The combination of morality, religious duality, and human spirituality is replicated in great visual form between the breathtaking vistas, claustrophobic settings, and warring factions of the film. These collections of elements allows for a more sophisticated genre effort to come into the light, one that is a hell of a lot of fun to experience yet full of pulse pounding moments that spring up at you at every turn. I can’t recommend this little indie effort enough and hope that this write up will force you to take notice on a horror film that really has its shit together when it comes to quality and quantity. Check it out.
|Dude! I think there's something sticking out of your neck!|
|Alright son. Are you ready for some StakeBall!|
|No shit Sherlock!|
|When road rage goes too far.|
|Where the shit are we?|
|Santa? You're not looking so hot.|
|We're the Monster Squad.|
|Martin you cheeky little pervert.|
|Yep... it's broken.|
|This world is so brutal, even the leaves bleed.|
|One of the few peaceful moments in this shitstorm of a film.|
|Mister, come over here and give us a big wet lickery kiss.|
|Look out for the roadkill. It's EVERYWHERE!|
|Peek a boo... I see you.|
|Roasted... Toasted... and burnt to a crisp!|
|What?!?! No one said this was a nun rape crossing?|
|Welcome to the end of the movie.|