Just had a chance to checkout Stakeland which I bought while I was on my man date with Tim Hannigan in Toronto yesterday and am here to report in with my review. Stakeland is written and directed by Jim Mickle who also did Mulberry Street. Mulberry Street was an imaginative take on the zombie virus and a movie that die hard horror fans rave about, including me. So you can only imagine that Jim had no intentions of doing just another vampire movie when he set down to layout and make Stakeland.
Stakeland can be summed up with one small phrase, it is The Walking Dead of Vampire movies with an intricate script a powerful cast and a story that unfolds like a well oiled machine and begs why nobody has optioned it for a premium cable miniseries. Stakeland is just too much great material to be summed up in a 90 minute movie and for the first time ever I am wishing this movie was twice the length so I could continue to travel the scorched earth with this small group of survivors who are trying to survive not just the vampire apocalypse but themselves.
Stakeland is the story of Martin who was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation’s abandoned towns and cities, and it’s up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent’s New Eden. Along the way they pick up a rag tag crew of survivors most note able Danielle Harris who delivers her typical powerful performance and proves why she is one of the top genre favourites when it comes to horror.
The entire cast is spotless in their performances with Conner Paolo delivering a powerful performance as the young boy Martin who is taken under the wing of the hardened vampire killer Mister played by Nick Damici. Stakeland takes the excuses out of Hollywood and proves that good filmmaking has nothing to do with actors with big names, great teeth or nice tits it’s about raw and pure talent something that the cast of Stakeland has in droves. Every actor and every character works perfectly with few exceptions making Stakeland not only a movie with a great cast and a fantastic script but a movie that pulls you in and truly engages you in the story as it unfolds.
Stakeland is everything that Hollywood hates. It is slow, methodical and poignant with a script and characters full of emotion and heart. Added to the mix are truly fantastic practical makeup FX and vampires that put a whole slew of modern big budget vampire movies to absolute shame. Dark, deep, thought provoking and at times brutal and disturbing Stakeland is a throw back to when horror movies were more than just about a hatchet wielding man in the night or a ghost in the darkness jumping out for a cliché boo.
Stakeland is the vampire movie for people who hated everything about Will Smith in I am Legend and want a heartfelt vampire experience that will show the unvarnished brutal look at a world overrun by vampires that don’t sparkle and the society that evolves from it both good and bad. Stakeland is the must buy horror DVD of 2011 thus far. If you like films like Near Dark, Carriers, The Road, or Pontypool you will do yourself a favour in buying this fantastic film.