Film Review: Stake Land

Stake Land is a post-apocalyptic road movie, which works a little like a cross between The Road and Zombieland. It is relentlessly bleak, which can be a bit of a chore as the film progresses.

Martin was a regular teenage boy living with his family. When vampires slaughter them, like millions of others, the teenager is rescued by Mister. Martin travels with Mister, fighting back against any vampires that attack them. Mister trains Martin in combat, as they head towards the safe haven of New Eden…

Stake Land ultimately feels a bit unsatisfying. There are some tense moments and gory action sequences, but little else to sustain the film. The combination of horror and drama can work to great effect, but in Stake Land it just feels staid. There is no humour in the film, which is a shame as the mood could have done with lightening for at least some interludes. It is the comedy in Zombieland that makes it such an enjoyable watch. Eschewing this option, Stake Land is unlikely to become a film that will be revisited again and again.

The narrative is fairly run-of-the-mill, offering no surprises to those familiar with post-apocalyptic movies. The voiceover works well, but the bleakness overshadows any promise of something different. There is a lack of imagination in both the story and the characters. New characters who enter during the course of the film are never developed; presumably it is all about the journey rather than the players.

Stake Land‘s art direction is good. The de-saturation of colour is seemingly synonymous with post-apocalyptic bleakness. The soundtrack also works well, and is very effective in conveying the bleak tone. Some of the montage sequences, which feature Martin being trained, are reminiscent of The Karate Kid. It is unclear whether this is an unintentional homage or not from director Jim Mickle.

Performances are fine but unremarkable in Stake Land. Connor Paolo is appropriately cast as teenager Martin. Nick Damici is suitably sombre as Mister, while Kelly McGillis is adequate as Sister. As Jebedia Loven, Michael Cerveris is a one-dimensional villain. This is perhaps down to a lacking script, rather than the individual performance, however.

With its vile, repugnant antagonists, Stake Land’s vampires are the antithesis to the sparkly kind featured in Twilight. Sadly, Stake Land lacks the buoyancy or drive to make it a truly memorable film. Not at all a painful watch, but not a inspired one either.