'Stake Land,' directed by Jim Mickle (United States)
'Stake Land' is essentially a Western road movie with vampires. After the vampire apocalypse, small pockets of humanity remain but they're few and far between. Things are further complicated by the Brotherhood, a violent, Aryan-style religious group controlling the major roadways and terrorizing non-believers using vampires as weapons. Nick Damici stars as Mister, the gruff loner on his way to New Eden, the Zion-esque human community. Mister comes across the young Martin, played by Connor Paolo, and takes him under his wing. The unlikely duo take to the open road, killing vampires and running afoul of the Brotherhood while Mister mentors Martin in the finer points of survival. But their scrapes with the Brotherhood make them marked men and vampires may be the least of their problems on the road to New Eden.
'Stake Land' is the second film directed by Jim Mickle and co-written by lead actor Nick Damici who made their mark with the 2006 film 'Mulberry Street,' one of the best entries in that year's After Dark Horrorfest. Sadly, 'Stake Land' falters a bit, partially due to a meandering plot that doesn't seem too sure where it wants to end up. Damici and Paolo play off each other pretty well, and Danielle Harris and Kelly McGillis put in solid work in supporting roles, but the slow pacing and lack of a true climax make it a tough sell. In the end, 'Stake Land' is a dry, bleak film with a few good points that aren't quite enough to save it.