Wednesday, 13 July 2011

REVIEW: Stake Land

Vampires, lets do this.

What with the lore of the vampire being consumed by chick-lit for a generation, you get the sense male vampire fans are pretty pissed off. Hence the noticeable reactionary theme of vampires becoming ugly, barely humanistic zombies, as if taunting female vampire fans with 'there, find something attractive about that'. Now I'm not particularly for this development, as depriving a vampire his intelligence is to me every bit castrating as depriving him of his violence. Personally my real problem is not with sensitive vampires, but of the notion of them falling head over heals for boring, every day girls. Something that's as inexcusably ridiculous as cheerleaders falling for nerds, but I suppose that's an egregiousness to logic that happens on a far more regular basis, so boys kind of have to can it.

But anyway, vampires. This vampire as zombie trend doesn't necessarily make for a bad movie, it just means it's going to have more in common with Dawn Of the Dead then Near Dark. And that's certainly the case here, where Stake Land is for all intents and purposes a post-apocalyptic zombie film, with the vampire thing being neither here nor there. And while it's certainly not a bad one, I think its indie credibility has perhaps scored it some better reviews then it deserves. There's a lot of cliche here, and while that's not definitively a bad thing, I feel I have seen better versions of Stake Land many times over. The characters are all kind of stock and pile for the genre, you have the gruffled anti-hero, the teenager, the pregnant woman, the black guy, the cult leader etc. I guess Kelly McGillis' nun was a nice touch but generally this all sort of unimaginative and certainly not any kind of genre re-invention. At times critics tend to be kind to something simply because it's lo-fi, and in this particular instance I imagine if you made exactly the same script with 30 million instead of 1, the reviews would be about a third as kind.

It's not a bad movie, rather an assured retread of familiar territory. Nick Damici makes for a solid lead, and Connor Paolo managing to not be obnoxious as a post-apocalyptic teen warrior is something of an achievement in and of itself, and McGillis brings some much needed warmth to proceedings. But I'd call Stake Land a fun diversion and nothing more, and it's way too insubstantial and slender to be called anything better then workmanlike. But of course, simply being workmanlike puts it in much better stead then the majority of horror movies so I guess I have to be happy with that.

Rating: 6/10

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