UK Release date: 17th June 2011 (Limited)
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 10th June 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I knew very little about this film before seeing it. All I can remember is it being announced back in 2009 that it was being made and being intrigued by the idea. It took a while, but it finally appeared on TV this week; there was only a limited release here in the UK and so little chance to see it on the big screen. I must say I was impressed; it was so much different to what I was expecting (in a good way). I will tell you more after this very brief summary.
America has been overrun by vampires and those that survive do their best to avoid both the vampires and the religious cults that sprang up afterwards. Having lost his parents, teenager Martin travels with Mister, a vampire hunter. Mister trains Martin as they go north; they are heading towards Canada, to a place known as New Eden. On the way they pick up several waifs and strays; a nun, Sister, a pregnant girl, Belle and a former soldier, Willie. They also have a run-in with ‘The Brotherhood’, a religious cult led by one Jebedia Loven. It’s dangerous times on the road and there will be casualties (& I don’t mean just the vampires). Will they make it? Well I guess I had better not give that one away or the Spoiler Police will be leaving me out as vampire bait (again).
A very subdued tone to this one with the tale being narrated by the young lad Martin. Some very poignant music by Jeff Grace underpins the visuals and gives a bit of an eerie feel to it in places. All the performances were very good; particularly Connor Paolo as Martin and Nick Damici as Mister, both did a superb job. They were ably supported by; Kelly McGillis as Sister, Michael Cerveris as Jebedia Loven, Danielle Harris as Belle and Sean Nelson as Willie.
Any writer that is not afraid to kill off one (or more) of his characters in order to give more weight to the plot is worth looking at. The writers here did just that and it worked pretty well. The story would have been too bleak (I’m thinking of ‘The Road here) if it was left to just Martin and Mister to carry it. The other characters give them something more to play with and, to a large extent it works. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination; it takes some time to settle and is a bit confused for a while. But it does settle down and you do get to care about the characters by the end and by then I was left wanting more! For me, a little unpolished, but still a little gem… RECOMMENDED.
My score: 6.9/10
IMDb Score: 6.6/10 (based on 12,930 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 66/100: (Based on 15 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 75/100 (based on 59 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 60/100 ‘Liked It’ (based on 4,807 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Mister: You wanna live boy, you listen to me. You scream, I'll break your neck. They're dead! There's nothing to be done about it but kill that thing. Can you shoot? You shoot me I'll fuckin' kill you!
Martin: Months passed in a blur of days and nights. We travelled east and west, but always north. Away from death.
Martin: We avoided the cities. Mister said they were the worst, hit the hardest in the beginning. As people flocked together for safety, the plague marched through their locked gates and they became death traps.
Martin: When Washington fell, it was over for America as we knew her. As government blew away, our great leaders ran for it. And hope was abandoned
Martin: We were on our own now. Me and Mister. Travelling through a ruined land.
Martin: Pockets of civilization survived. Towns locked down behind fences and guns holding the night away.
Martin: Cults spread like wildfire across the southern states. Waitin' for the messiah, but... he never came. Death came in its stead. And it came with teeth.
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site: http://www.stakelandmovie.com/