Movie Review: The Stakelander (2016)
Death is no escape.”
The Stakelander (2016)
Director: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Cast: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Laura Abramsen
Synopsis: When his home is destroyed and his family murdered by a vampire army, a young man seeks out his mentor to help him exact revenge.
The Stakelander, Nick Damici’s belated no-frills direct-to-video and internet sequel to the critically favoured Stake Land (2010), sees a bloodthirsty army led by a she-vampire known as The Mother destroy the sanctuary provided by New Eden to Martin (Connor Paolo – Mystic River, Alexander), the young hero of the first film, and his new family. Forced to flee his home after witnessing the killing of his wife and baby in the bloodbath, Martin resolves to find Mister (Damici – Cold in July), his mentor from the first movie, even the older man is something of a drifter and could be anywhere in two vast countries. The words needle, haystacks and 10,000 come to mind. In fact, Martin would have more chance of finding a hair plucked from his nostril back in 2005 than he would of finding–
Oh, wait a minute – there he is…
Forced to fight for the entertainment of the bunch of regressive outcasts that abduct and imprison him, Martin finds himself squaring up to none other than the man who took him under his wing and taught him how to survive in a world ravaged by vampires and violent religious cults. I ask you, what are the chances of that? Naturally, it’s half the attendees at Martin and Mister’s fight to the death who end up breathing their last, leaving our two heroes frees to begin their turgid search for the killer of Martin’s family.
Nick Damici shared writing credits with Jim Mickle on Stake Land, but goes it alone for the sequel; judging from the gulf in quality between the two movies, it’s safe to say that Mickle – who went on to write the critically acclaimed Cold in July – was the more talented of the two writers. Stake Land struck an achingly melancholic tone, and was one of only a few movies to truly convey the sheer physical and psychological burden of living in a post-apocalyptic world. For the sequel, Damici takes things more in the direction of a Mad Max movie, albeit without the sense of humour that made those movies (latest addition excepted) so unique. The Stakelander limps towards its conclusion at a funereal pace; without once pulling us into its world or attracting us to its characters, and fails to suggest it was made for any reason other than to make some money – instead of, for example, expanding upon the first movie’s terrifying view of its post-apocalyptic world.
(Reviewed 3rd February 2017)