Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A review of "Stake Land"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Stake Land”

By: Brian Cotnoir

     I am very excited to write this review because I found this film to be very enjoyable.  This film has an awesome setting and more remarkable characters than I can count.  It’s like “Zombieland” meets Vampires!  All right, let’s not waste any more of your time.  Here is why you should watch the movie “Stake Land”.      
    So “Stake Land” is set in the not too distant future and its central theme revolves around the survival of a Vampire Apocalypse.  Our story is told in narration form by our protagonist—a young boy named Martin.  Martin’s family was slaughtered by vampire’s right before his eyes and if it wasn’t for a stranger—simply known as “Mister”—who just happened to be passing by Martin would be dead as well.  Mister takes the orphan Martin under his wing and acts as his Guardian/Mentor.  Mister begins teaching and training Martin in the art of vampire slaying.  Martin and Mister’s plan is to eventually leave South Carolina and head up North to a place called “New Eden”; where rumor is that there are no vampires in New Eden because they are incapable of surviving in the cold climates because they are Cold Blooded.  However, vampires aren’t the only dangers that Martin and Mister will face on their journey.  In a world where there is absolute chaos and the only law is those who take the law into their own hands Mister must teach Martin everything he knows or the two of them stand absolutely no chance at survival.    
See it! See it! See It!

    I absolutely love the characters in this film.  My favorite character, hands down, is Martin.  When the film starts off Martin is this young, naïve, good ol’ boy whose family is tragically massacred by a hungry vampire.  That tragic event led to Martin developing a bleak outlook on life.  He doesn’t whine, he doesn’t cry, he has just become numb to everything.  He yearns for a simple life where no one and nothing can bother him. Throughout the film Martin has to lots of things he doesn’t want to do, but he does them because he is helpful and loyal to Mister and over the course of the film we see Martin evolve from a quiet lost boy to tough self-reliant man.  Actor Connor Paolo was just fantastic in this role.  The role of Martin, I think, was a very difficult one to play, because he had to show how he evolved and changed over the course of the film.  Starting at one spectrum an ending at the other (without “jumping the shark”) is quite a feat for any actor to do in just one film.  It’s not like Paolo had 2-3 films to stretch and develop his character.  He did it just one.                               
Mister get's ready to battle some vamps!
     My other favorite character in the film is Mister.  Mister is a lot like Tallahassee in “Zombieland” except without the humor, but that isn’t to say that he doesn’t do some funny things in the film.  He’s tough, but he’s not mean.  He’s a man who knows to keep his emotions out of his decision making because he knows that letting his emotions get the best of him could get him killed.  This is a term that gets tossed around in the film, but Mister is a total “Bad Ass” character.  Whenever Mister and Martin enter a new town/area and are asked for I.D. he hands the person a pouch filled with vampire fangs; trophies he has taken from each vampire he staked.  How cool is that?  In another scene he comes across two men raping a nun and he kills them both without any hesitation and very little effort, so Bonus Points to Mister.  He is played by unknown actor Nick Damici, who also wrote co-wrote the script with the film’s director Jim Mickle.                     
Mister's Character "Prequel" Made before the films release
Jebediah Loven is a great villain in this film!
This film has a great villain as well, and I’m not talking about the vampires—though they are pretty cool looking.  The bad guy in “Stake Land” is a man named Jebediah Loven.  Loven is the leader of a Cult known as “The Brotherhood” and he believes the vampire plague was the work of God, and he believes that God sent him the vampires for him to control and use to “Do the Lord’s Work”.  Loven believes that he knows the only key to controlling the vampires and he acts with great hostility towards anyone who does not want to join the Brotherhood.  He even goes so far as to have vampires dropped out of helicopters on neutral towns as a way to spread the plague and conquer new areas.  Unlike religious leaders in other apocalyptic films that claim they’re doing the Lords work, but have ulterior motives, Loven seems very sincere in his beliefs that he was chosen by God to rule and rebuild the Earth, and that God sent the Vampires for him to control and use as Instruments of God to get people to join his cult.                 
Jebediah Loven's character "prequel" released prior to films release

     Very rarely to see unknown writers and directors hit a home run in with their first films, and the team of Nick Damici and Jim Mickle did just that.  With a list of strong, interesting, and heroic characters, great villains (both Human and undead), and story that is fairly reminiscent of two successful Hollywood films, “Stake Land” is just an all around awesome movie.  I would recommend this film to anyone.  I am so glad that I watched this film.  I really can’t say enough great things about it.

Yeah Do what the Poster says!

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