Jim Mickle’s Stake Land

I watched this at the Sydney Film Festival and I dug it. There was Ginger Snaps (2000) and Bigelow’s Near Dark before that, but U.S. indie offerings in the vampire genre have been somewhat wanting compared to what the British have been serving up for years:  zombies (28 Days Later), for instance, and werewolves (Dog Soldiers). Some kind of antidote to the scourge of blockbusters like Blade and I am Legend seems long overdue, and Jim Mickle does it with Stake Land.

Teenage Martin (Connor Paolo) loses his family to the vampire epidemic sweeping the country, starts hanging out with a badass vampire killer known only as Mister (Nick Damici). The pair are joined by not your usual misfits—a middle-aged nun, pregnant barmaid, a marine—all trying to stay one step ahead of the bloodsucking scourge, plus some cannibalistic tribes and Fundamentalist nut jobs who drop live vamps from the sky into frontier settlements for fun, oh, and because God told them to.

Beyond 70s-era taut cinematography, and a brave take on a Matthesonian world in which the monsters evolve—get smarter—Stake Land has three essential things going for it.  Read more

And now back to the novel

Oh, but just before I do… watched Daybreakers last night, a little post Halloween treat. Killer take on the vamp story. Australian feel to it, but in a good way. Sam Neil wasn’t entirely convincing as the evil corporate sucker, but he played it for camp, always good to see a fine actor enjoying himself. The best thing about the film was the premise, which was smart and tricky and original—the world literally turned upside down as vampires inexorably populate the planet—and the seamlessness of the world created by the Spierig brothers, from a blood-deprived hero chainsmoking to block his cravings to armor plated vehicles set to daylight drive mode—was truly impressive.