Stake Land Blu-ray review

            Stake Land once again places humanity in the post-apocalyptic world of survival. Like many zombie and vampire movies of the recent past, the most frightening concept is not that there are monsters attacking humanity, but that at any moment we could also become the monster. Humans become selfish and hoard what is left of the resources in an attempt to survive, which has remarkable significance when considering the politics in the United States right now. The fear of the lower majority bloodsucking the remaining survivors seems to be the Republican fear represented in Stake Land, where there is also a fanatic religious group determined to rape and pillage the poor human survivors, which also accurately gives us the fear of Democrats. All of this relevance in a vampire film, and it is also pretty damn entertaining.

            Although we are told that the vampire plague has spread all over the world, perhaps even beginning in the Middle East, it is America which is the focus of Stake Land. There are rumors of a safe haven in Canada, called New Haven, and our group of survivors is on a mission to find that safety from their evil fellow man and the bloodthirsty vampires. Martin (Connor Paolo) is saved from a vampire that kills his whole family, and becomes the student of a hardened vampire killer known as Mister (Nick Damici). These two pick up other innocent survivors as they travel, though many are quick to die along the journey.

            There are many dangers on the road, especially in a society gone mad. Even during the daylight hours when the vampires are all in hiding from the sun, there are many threats along the way. The largest is a religious cult known as the Brotherhood, who find it their religious right as Americans to literally rape and pillage what is left. The brutality of this gang may be more frightening than anything the vampires can provide. Part of this may be due to the slightly uninspired presentation of the vampires. Over time they seem to resemble zombies with sharp teeth than they do vampires, but nothing has been done to the monsters themselves to make them unique to this film.

            The Blu-ray of this remarkable film comes with a plethora of extras, including seven short films by various directors, each providing some prequel information for the main storyline. There are also two feature-length cast and crew commentary tracks, both of which feature director Jim Mickle, and a making-of feature. Not to mention the video diaries done by Mickle during production, storyboards, pre and post-production featurettes and a film festival footage and interviews. The special features are overflowing, as is the relevance and competence of this American horror film. 

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