STAKE LAND (2011) Review

Directed by: Jim Mickle
Starring: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Danielle Harris

I wasn't sure quite what to expect when I watched STAKE LAND. I hadn't seen the trailer or read any reviews, in fact all I knew about it was that it was a vampire flick. That didn't exactly get my pulse racing, because it seems that every other day there is a new vampire film out and unfortunately about 90% of them suck (pun not intended). But then I saw the dvd cover which actually looked pretty cool, and I also noticed that Danielle Harris was in the cast. That's what persuaded me that it may actually be a good film, and after watching it on the weekend I can honestly say that I loved it.

I have to admit that it's not a very original story. It's basically Zombieland but without the humor and with vampires instead of zombies. Add a little I Am Legend and maybe The Walking Dead and you'll get a pretty good picture of what the film is like. And unlike Zombieland there is no sign of that annoying bastard Jesse Eisenberg. Instead we get Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl, World Trade Center) who I think was brilliant. And playing the part of Woody Harrelson is Nick Damici (Mulberry St, In The Cut) who was great as the tough but loving father figure. Unfortunately there is no Bill Murray cameo, but I think we can all live with that.

Martin (Paolo) is a young boy who was rescued by Mister (Damici) after vampires attacked his home and killed his family. Mister has taken him under his wing and taught him how to survive as they make their way to the legendary New Eden in the north. Along the way they spend their nights in abandoned houses, buses and even Mister's car if need be. Occasionally running into vampires which they kill and extract the fangs, which are used as a kind of currency. They collect a small group of companions on their journey, most notably Sister (Kelly McGillis) and the pregnant Belle (Danielle Harris).
Occasionally they come to fortified towns known as 'lockdowns' where people have gathered to keep some kind of semblance of normal life, to pick up supplies and information before continuing north.
But on the way they discover that the vamps aren't the only threat. They come face to face with a group of jesus-freaks known as the Brotherhood who are lead by a bald nut named Jebadia (played perfectly by Michael Cerveris). The Brotherhood abduct them, keeping Sister as a sex slave and throwing Mister to the vamps. Martin escapes and eventually winds up finding Mister's car, along with Mister himself who is hiding in the trunk.
They keep driving, sticking to the backroads until they come to one last lockdown on the way to New Eden. But then the Brotherhood come along and air-drop vampires into the town, causing chaos and further incurring the ire of Mister.
The big showdown inevitably arrives between Mister and Jebadia towards the end of the film which then winds down as New Eden looms ahead.

I'm really struggling to find some aspect of this film that I didn't like. The writing, direction and acting were all pretty amazing. The makeup and FX on the vampires were fantastic, as was the whole atmosphere of the movie. I wouldn't give STAKE LAND top marks for originality, but it is definitely a great film and one that I would watch again.


  1. Judging by the trailer, it looks like a quality film. Granted, one should never judge a film based on the trailer... but based on your review, I think it's worth a shot.

  2. It is a good film. As I said it's not very original, and fairly predictable but it's fun and better than a lot of the other crap that's come out in recent years.

  3. I can respect your opinion with this film! Glad that you gave a great rating.

    I did fully enjoy this film. It's taking vampire movies to a whole another level. It reminded me slightly of The Road but not in a...copying way.