Wednesday, October 7, 2015

31 Days of Horror- Day 7: Stake Land (2010)

(dir. Jim Mickle)

Dark Sky Films/IFC Films
*First time viewing

A young man and a legendary vampire hunter make the journey to the fabled Safe Haven while fending off vampires and religious zealots along the way.

Last year I kicked off “31 Days of Horror” with Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are. Like that film, Stake Land possesses a certain literary quality that makes the film stand out amongst its contemporaries. With its methodically-paced character development, and emphasis on atmosphere and landscape instead of action, Stake Land delivers a small narrative that serves to flesh out a larger world that Mickle has created. Martin and Mister’s journey through the wasteland of America, their encounters and chance meetings along the way are reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Stand, though on a much smaller scale. There’s a realism to vampire apocalypse and the way our heroes must contend with them. Ultimately, the film has far more in common with The Road than say Blade, albeit with a bit more optimism thrown in. As Martin and Mister pick up companions along the way, their duo becomes a family, one where every character is likeable and every death hits home. While the climax is a bit contrived due to a tonal shift and a splashy fight scene with a revenge-driven villain, Stake Land manages to regain its emotional footing by the end.

Scare Factor: 1/5 Stake Land focuses on human characters instead of vampires, and while certain elements are familiar, Mickle manages to pack emotional punch after punch. Plus, Danielle Harris is in it, and you can’t go wrong with Danielle Harris.

**Available to watch on Netflix Instant

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