By Dave B.
In Stake Land (2011, currently on Showtime), a vampire epidemic has swept the world and shattered the United States. Martin, a teenage orphan, and Mister, the last vampire hunter wander the desolate American landscape, travelling between scattered outposts on their way to the supposed safe haven of New Eden, in Canada. Along the way. Martin and Mister acquire travelling companions as they battle vampires and the Brotherhood, an Aryan death cult that worships the beasts.
I decided to watch Stake Land again because I wanted to review the sequel and it’s been years since I watched the original. I’m glad I decided to refresh my memory. Stake Land is dark, brooding, and powerful in an understated way. More importantly, it’s one of those rare monster films that’s far more focused on character development and human interactions than it is on scares, which makes watching it more of a moving experience than a frightening one. Don’t get me wrong; Stake Land is violent and bloody and there are monsters aplenty. No one is safe from the vampire hordes and the tension level throughout the film is high.
But the humans in Stake Land are an equal or greater danger than the vampires and as a study on how humans react to the destruction of everything that they know, Stake Land is just short of being a masterpiece. In particular, the ease with which people are seduced and/or cowed by the Brotherhood’s theology is frightening and disgusting. However, there are plenty of people who band together for completely benign purposes, as well. The movie serves as a stark reminder that, in general, many people tend to be only as “good” as their perceived options are.
I like Stake Land. A lot. It clocks in at just under 100 minutes, which is perfect: it’s almost entirely unsentimental and doesn’t waste time belaboring points. It delivers it’s story concisely and engagingly and doesn’t assume that it’s viewers are idiots. All around, Stake Land deserves to be in the pantheon of vampire movies and I definitely recommend it, both for fans of the vampire/ horror genre and for those who are just interested in the human condition.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.