- Director:Jim Mickle
- Cast:Kelly McGillis , Nick Damici , Connor Paolo
- Release Date:June 23, 2011
- Running time:98 minutes
- Film Worth:$10.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Although admirable for a low budget horror thriller, this is let down by inept storytelling.
Imagine if John Hillcoat's The Road, Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later and Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark had a love child. Throw in the work of novelist Richard Matheson (especially I Am Legend) and you pretty much get Jim Mickle's Stake Land, a well-made, but generic and unimaginative horror thriller that does little to differentiate itself from the recent glut of vampire stories on film and television.
In a post-apocalyptic America, Damici is Mister, a worldly, unsentimental drifter who takes the naïve narrator Martin (Paolo) under his wing and teaches the teenager how to kill vampires.
Stake Land is a low-budget thriller and - to the credit of the filmmakers - most of the budget does seem to be on the screen. For an independent production, Mickle's film does an excellent job in giving this world a verisimilitude and physical reality, with top marks going to Daniel R. Kersting's production design and Mickle's editing.
Among the performers, Damici also takes top honours, creating a sense of mystery and edge to his hard-bitten warrior. Best known for his key supporting turn in Jane Campion's In the Cut, Damici also co-wrote Stake Land, which may explain why Mister gets all the film's best lines, as well.
Stake Land, unfortunately, fails to satisfy on a storytelling level. The script by Damici and Mickle is more like a series of thriller set-pieces than a particularly engrossing or compelling story, often relying on explicit voice-over to push forward the story than character-to-character interaction. As a result, the film feels undramatic. Fundamental questions regarding the narrator and his relationships with others are never resolved, whilst thematic threads - like Sister Anna and the family motif that is established towards the end - feel more like dangling modifiers than essential components of the film's structure.
Despite the relatively strong production values, Stake Land is more gruelling than involving.