Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stake Land

We found ourselves without new films to watch last night, and so one quick trip to Blockbusters later, and we were furnished with a new vampire film which I'd not heard of.

Stake Land seems to build on the premise of the adorable Zombieland - one of my favourite films of recent years - except that instead of zombies having taken over the world, it's vampires. I always smile at the taglines they put on these films: 'Forget what you know about horror, this one's a game changer' said something/someone called The Skinny; and 'See this film at any cost' urges Gorepress ... hmmm ...

It's not a bad film at all. The production values seem very high, and while it's obviously low budget, they do a good job of not making that element show. Thus the vampires have fairly decent make-up and there's a whole heap of corpses which get strewn about in every location the heroes end up in.  It's a sort of road movie of sorts, but one where the lead characters don't really show any development. It's also very bleak.

The world has gone to pot since the vampires came to town, and everywhere is destroyed. Small pockets of humanity exist: from the nice and friendly, 'come to our town and we'll give you all you need' to the distinctly unfriendly: 'vampires have been sent by God to serve us ... so we'll feed you to them ...'

Our heroes are Mister - a sort of loner vampire killer - and a boy called Martin, and along the way they travel with a pregnant girl (Belle), a Nun (Sister) and another man (Willie), coming up against the loopy Jebedia who runs a vampire-worshipping group.  The problem with the film is that it just drifts from one location to another, the characters come and go, and as I say, there doesn't seem to be any development.  The most random thing in the film is when unknown people in helecopters drop live vampires onto a town which is holding a party celebration ... no explanation, but the party ends thereafter.

The film also doesn't really end. Mister heads off into the proverbial sunset, leaving Martin and new girl Peggy to continue to drive to Canada where, supposedly, safety from the vampire hoard awaits them. The film ends as they reach the Canadian border.

It was an enjoyable watch, but it lacks the humour and self-awareness of Zombieland. Everything is bleak and uncompromising, and at times it's quite challenging as babies get killed, and the vampires destroy everything in sight. The vamps though are far more like zombies than vampires - they don't seem to think and just attack and eat ... and this also generates a credibility problem for the final battle with Jebedia.

Better than some lower budget offerings I've seen, I'd maybe give Stake Land a 6/10.

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