Sunday, August 21, 2011

365 Movies Day #146 "Stake Land"

Wow. What a surprising treat. I saw this on the shelf at Wal Mart and the cover looked cool and I remember someone asking about it on facebook awhile back so I thought I'd give it a chance. So glad I did. Beautifully shot, well acted and with a story reminiscent of "Book of Eli", "Walking Dead" and Richard Matheson's novel "I am Legend", it was definitely not the B-Movie grindhouse film I expected (especially after watching the trailers).

The lead character is Martin, a teenager who is plunged headlong into a world occupied by zombie-like vampires when his family is brutally slain by the monsters. A hunter known only as Mister rescues him and takes him on as a protege. On the way to "New Eden" in Canada, they pick up more survivors and run into religious fanatics and other folks struggling to survive.

Martin is played by Connor Paolo of the TV series "Gossip Girl". Relative unknown Nick Damici (who also wrote the script) plays Mister who is one of the most brutal badasses to grace the film world in awhile. He is the epitome of a survivor and probably the coolest vampire hunter EVER. He reminded me a bit of Keitel and Rourke. The rest of their party is graced by the acting talents of horror vet Danielle Harris ("Hatchet", "Halloween" (2007), "Chrome Skull" and even played Bruce Willis's daughter in "The Last Boy Scout"), Kelly McGillis ("Top Gun")and Sean Nelson. Michael Cerveris plays a rather chilling character in the film as well.

This could possibly be the best Vampire film I've ever seen. The only thing holding it back in that department is that it is very much like a zombie film with more badass zombies. It doesn't detract from the film or the story (actually much more believable than some zombie flicks because they are a real threat here), just it's credibility as a "vampire film". Also, be warned, children are NOT off limits in the death toll which is a great way to show the destruction of innocence, but may be a total turn-off to some viewers. They went there in a way few films do.

This is one of Jim Mickle's first gigs as a director and I am VERY excited to see what he does next.


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