A while back we had mentioned a small, yet gruesome viral for the film Stake Land, and how much we loved it. What’s not to love about blood soaked viral at the time of its inception? I also pointed out how much of a fan I was of director Jim Mickle’s first film, Mulberry Street, as it changed the way of the zombie film, and in a very interesting way. So who’s to say I will feel the same way about his second major film? Keep reading to find out my thoughts on Stake Land. WARNING: Spoilers exist.
I think one of the greatest things about Mulberry Street is not the fact that it was different, it was the fact that the story was huge, characters were even bigger, and the settings took the entire film to a whole new feeling. And if that is Mickle’s true and separating tactic of film making, then he should stick with it because it did the same thing for Stake Land. It’s not a standard vampire film. In fact, it has little to do with vampires, yet when it does, it comes at you strong. Some of the most disturbing images I have seen in a long time come directly from this film. You will see what I mean within the first handful of minutes of the film.
The film is set very closely related to films about aftermath, and desolation. You can watch this film and feel that you have already seen pieces of it in other movies based on survival and new worlds, yet it doesn’t seem to be a repeat based on the characters that are within it. You pay little attention to what you’ve seen in the past as the story itself goes in different, yet interesting directions. Character is a great part of this film.
Mister, played by Nick Damici (who also co-wrote the film) takes under his wing a young man by the name of Martin (Connor Paolo) shortly after his family is murdered by “Vamps”. Mister teaches Martin how to survive, and as you can tell from the movie, takes a liking to him. Mister is what you could call a “slayer”, and has mastered the art of vampire killing, and gives Martin the lessons in life of the new world, all in search of “New Eden” (see viral).
The two are soon joined by the amazingly unrecognizable Kelly McGillis (yes, the same one from Top Gun) who adds to the far from gritty level of character we have seen up until this point of the film, playing a battered sister, who shows true faith throughout the entire movie. And yes, by sister I mean a nun. Also joining the crew is Danielle Harris who typically is a typecast, yet creating a soulful part to the plot and finally getting away from the scream queen style of her past.
I’ll jump into the first part of the film that I did NOT like right here. The “self preservation” group, if you will, that shows up in every film about sole surviving come in at this point. Not one part of this area was good to me. It threw the entire film off, and while they could have played on the entire idea that one would fend for them selves, they decided to go with the “I am god” approach. The film went from character driven to weak plot in seconds. This defect carried on to a later part of the film that I will let you see for yourselves, which happens to be my biggest gripe.
All is well as the style gets back to where it was. Fear the vamps. Take care of you and those around you. While people’s ignorance can be your enemy, there is still a point to this movie.
Visually, this film is amazing. While pieces of the dialogue can seem a little too poetic and overly narrative, and the style seems to make a quick jump halfway though, it stays within Mickle’s theme of changing the historic, for the better. This is far from your typical vampire movie, and for all the right reasons.
(4 out of 5 stars)