Film review: Stake LandBy Kim Francis
June 22, 2011
Vampire films used to be scary and unsettling. You knew where you were with a vampire film way back when.
The toothy creatures of the night were suave, mesmeric, cunning little bloodsuckers who used their charm and wily ways to ensnare their victims, puncturing necks and draining claret in an overtly sexual but relatively civilised way.
And if they weren’t, they were relentless super-strong, über-agile beasts who would rip you to shreds with their fangs and feast on your body as soon as they so much as look at you.
That’s the way vampires in the movies evolved and we were comfortable with that.
We’ve moved on from gothic origins in Nosferatu and Hammer Horror incarnations, enjoyed bitingly comic offerings Fright Night and Innocent Blood and savoured the grisly menace of 30 Days of Night – great – and now we’ve arrived at… Twilight.
Though it may seem as though the days of the old-fashioned vampire are dead and buried, for those looking for an antidote to the sanitised Dawson’s Creek-inspired R-Pattz/K-Stew love-in guff, Stake Land is very welcome medicine.
Despite its retro feel, Stake Land is unmistakeably contemporary, with its vampire-creatures merging the conventional bloodsucker with zombie-type characteristics to form one ravenous, burly, barely-sentient killing machine motivated by – and with no desire to hide – an unquenchable thirst for human blood.
In the wake of the staid, just-for-kids Twilight saga, Stake Land comes as a breath of fresh air, and at the same time, it feels reassuringly familiar bringing to mind recent films including The Road, 28 Days Later, Zombieland and Neil Marshall’s Doomsday.
Set in a time when the land has been destroyed by a vampire epidemic, the film follows a vampire killer known as Mister (Nick Damici) and young Martin (Connor Paolo), a boy he takes under his wing as he journeys across the United States in search of sanctuary.
Those left alive are scavenging to survive but, with the promise of New Eden, there’s hope for the unlikely duo – and a reason to carry on.
Stake Land feels like an exciting discovery in a genre that’s been scrubbed clean and over-polished in recent years.
It’s gory, it’s brutal, it’s a whole lot of fun – and it’s got Kelly McGillis out of Top Gun.