Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Stake Land

 Late to the game, I know! But I just saw Stake Land, FINALLY! Here's my situation; I have a kid who's too young for horror movies and I have a wife who can't sleep for a week if she sees Michael Myers on tv for two seconds, so if I'm going to watch a daddy movie I have to stay up later than everyone else, but my job has me getting up at 3 in the morning, so I'm rarely up later than everyone else.
But two nights ago the boy went to bed without a fight and the wife was deep asleep on the couch and I was all alone with Netflix and oh look Stake Land...
A couple of years ago Famous Monsters had a feature about Stake Land and Hypothermia (another film I'm dying to see) and since then I've waited patiently.
On the surface Stake Land doesn't sound like anything ground breaking; a tough loner picks up a green kid and they travel through a ruined world. This ruined world is over run by vampires, but it could be zombies or a rage virus or any old horde with a taste for flesh. But what makes Stake Land stand out is the impeccable pacing, the fleshed out characters, the compelling directing, a script that contains real logic and not corner cutting B-Movie logic.  
 Stake Land has an art house sensibility in the best practical sense. It approaches the story as a dramatic road movie rather than a horror film, which makes the horror even more palatable. It's a character driven film starring Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Danielle Harris, and Kelly McGillis. Director Jim Mickle brings, not just the characters, but their whole world, to vivid life. The film paints a picture of a post apocalyptic America, but never leans on exploitation to pull it off. But it is still a horror movie and one of the best I've seen in a hell of a long time.
The vampires are fantastic, they rank high with any I've ever seen and the special effects are top notch. If there was any CGI I didn't notice. Seriously disturbing images and a subtext that speaks directly to America's present reality, without ever becoming heavy handed or preachy.
We need more films in the horror genre with this much heart and soul and care given to the craft.

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