15 November 2012

Clarky's Cinema Review: Stake Land

This is a film that, as Ally noted, Fin has had on the HC radar for quite some time now. As such it was always going to struggle to live up to the hype that Fin had steeped upon it (if Fin hadn't been on holiday then he would have joined Ally in his podcast debut this week).

Having said that I did really enjoy this film. As has been noted by a number of other reviewers this film has a lot in common with The Road. In fact it has been compared to The Road with vampires or Zombieland without the comedy. And whilst part of me feels that this are lazy comparisons, they are incredibly apt.

However, I found this a far more enjoyable film The Road, partly due to the action scenes, but also due to the legend that is "Mister". He is the stand out character and is played to perfection by Nick Damici, who also co wrote the film.

I did have a few problems with this film however. Whilst it is very tense, incredibly so at times, during numerous scenes there are only a couple of genuine scares which make you jump out your seat. Whilst this is more than most other films, there are numerous wasted opportunities for other jumps throughout the film.

I also felt that the final "showdown" was firstly not really required, and secondly given that they did go down this route it was a bit of a damp squib. I really liked the variations between the different vampires, with the older ones having a harder breastplate and with the later ones starting to evolve.

There was no need for the bad guy to return at the end of the film, and it seemed to go against the earlier messages in the film, and was out of step with the episodic nature of the rest of the film. However, given that they did go with this I thought that they should have then gone for a balls out fight scene. The end result is a bit of a let down in my opinion.

There is also an incredible scene set in one of the lock down villages where vampires are dropped in fro above by the religious nuts. This should have led to a massive set piece where Mister got to show the vampires who was boss. Instead they hide upstairs and the scene is over as soon as it began. This was a great idea for a scene and really dark and interesting, but they could have made so much more for it.

The acting is uniformally good in my opinion. I loved Mister and Martin, a nod to the George A Romero vampire film, really does make a physical transformation as he moves from boy to man. Kelly McGillis also makes a welcome return to our screens. Maybe it was the make up artist depicting how hard the post apocalyptic world is, but she has had a hard paper route!

Finally, the vampires themselves are incredible. They look horrendous. Just compare them to the CGI monstrosities of I am Legend and the benefit of a good make up and special effect artist has never been more apparent.

In summary, there is a lot to enjoy here and the film pulls no punches. I was surprised with regards to some of the events, who survives and how dark it is, but there are light moments here as well and it looks gorgeous. But for every two good things there is a missed opportunity. A good film that could have been great.

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