Fantastic Fest 2010: Stake Land

Associate Editor, News; Toronto, Canada (@Mack_SAnarchy)
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Fantastic Fest 2010: Stake Land
In the midst of a vampire apocalypse Mister and Martin are heading North to New Eden, which should come as no surprise is CANADA. Mister saved Martin from a vampire attack that claimed his family. Mister has taken him under his wing and teaching him to survive in STAKE LAND. Central government has collapsed and territories are held by any variant of mutated vampires, religious fanatics, or isolated communities just looking to live through this apocalypse. In their travels they will save Sister from a pair of thugs from the Brotherhood, Belle who is looking for a safer place to raise her unborn child and Willie a combat vet called back to America to help with effort back home. They will travel between frontier towns, trying to keep clear of the Brotherhood, and make safe passage through to New Eden. And if it were up to them it would be easy. But this is STAKE LAND and nothing will ever be the same again.

Stake Land is beautifully shot and is nothing short of a stunning artistic achievement to combine this quality of filmmaking skill with awesome genre execution. It is one thing for a horror movie to have slick production values it is another thing to make a work of art on the screen while letting out the blood and gore. Jim Mickle and Ryan Samul have shot one of the most beautiful looking horror films I have seen in a while. It also has this beautiful musical score that helps evoke that feeling of frontier spirit of the film that I found so appealing; really nice grassroots stuff that sets the mood. Mickle and his production team deserve full credit for the convincing and detailed production design. Makeup effects are second to none as are the visual effects throughout. 

You will be hard pressed to find a horror film, let alone a vampire film, as complete and realized as this one. Stake Land is equal parts horror FILM, coming of age story, and frontier tale, thanks to Jim Mickle and Nick Damici's screenplay. I've already taken heat from James and Swarez for saying this today after this morning's press screening; there is a lot, A LOT, to chew on in this film. Themes include the absence of morality in a broken, scratch that - ripped apart- world, religious fanaticism and the will to survive. 

Stake Land stands out from the repetitive and bland drivel and slew of remakes the studio system turns out on the cheap to make a quick buck and profit off of the lemming masses. It is a benchmark in horror film making and sets a lofty standard for horror films that want to offer loads of thrills and blood yet still maintain their integrity and not sell out their soul.
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