Yes, yet another take on the Vampire genre, but STAKE LAND eschews the glitter and silliness that plagues TWILIGHT, and even the gothic lust of TRUE BLOOD, and instead borrows from the likes of Cormack McCarthy.
Essentially an “Underground Railroad” trek, we’re thrown almost immediately into mayhem, as the entire family of our protagonist is slaughtered before their eyes. The film thus starts on absolutely crucial footing, showing almost immediately how high the, uh, “stakes” are in this film. When you see an infant destroyed moments into a work, you can settle in uneasily, genuinely unsure of the fate of the characters you’re about to follow.
What’s even more interesting is the juxtaposition between those Vampires being hunted and the religious zealots using the opportunity to gain a foothold on scarce resources. The film is a literate apocalyptic vision, yet when helicopters piloted by fundamentalists are dropping demonic creatures from as a form of biological warfare, we’re left almost stunned in the brashness of the proceedings.
Along the way, as characters come and go, we’re led by a quirky narration that compares favorably with the precocious voiceover used in DAYS OF HEAVEN.
The film doesn’t entirely hold up for its whole running time, but it’s such an audacious, smart work that it’s not difficult to overlook the missteps. Literate, cool, STAKE LAND is a pointedly original take on a well trod genre, and is to be applauded.