Some slight spoilers!!!
Saw this last night. I had Jim Mickle pegged as a dude with potential when I caught Mulberry Street at the Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival in Edinburgh a number of years ago. So when I found out that he had a new movie coming out I was immediately interested. Anyway...I saw Stake Land last night and it's the best slice of horror pie i've tasted so far this year. It's got loads going for it.
The vampires in this movie are pretty cool. They basically exist in a feral, animalistic state and the longer someone is a vampire the stronger and more difficult to kill they get. Longtime vamps are referred to as berserkers and it's impossible to even get a stake through their breast bone. When they get a hold of a victim they make a hughe fucking mess. So the vamps are great in this. Always important in a vampire movie (fuck off Twilight!!!)
But it's not all about the vamps. It's about how people deal with the pressure of living moment to moment never knowing when you might bite the big one. Some of the humans in this story present as great a danger as the vampires. I'm talking about the cult of religious nutjob types who think that the vamps have been sent by God to take care of the sinners. These guys are major league scumbags and every time one of them took a bullet I rejoiced.
Another thing the movie had going for it was that it took the time to create a bunch of characters that this viewer really cared about. Always a bonus in any horror movie. All too often I couldn't give a rat's ass what fate awaits the protaginists. In fact in any number of cases i've found myself wanting them to meet a gory end. Not in this movie. In this movie I was rooting for our little group of survivors all the way. It helps that the director got some great performances out of the main actors. Nick Damici as Mister is a fucking badass in this and if there were any justice in this world (there often ain't) this would propell him onto bigger and better things. Connor Paolo as the kid he takes under his wing is likewise fantastic. Imagine my surprise to find a teenage character in a movie I didn't want to punch repeatedly in the face for being an obnoxious little shit. Then there's Kelly McGillis in probably the first movie i've seen her in since Cat Chaser back in 1989. She gives a very sober performance here and she's great. Which leaves us with Danielle Harris and Sean Nelson. Danielle was pretty damn fine in this and Sean Nelson despite coming into the movie late in the day was good.
Overall this is an awesome addition to the vampire subgenre. It's like Cormac McCarthy's The Road had a baby with The Walking Dead then the baby got bit by Dracula. Speaking of babies...wait till y'all see the first five minutes of this movie. Anyway...this one is highly recommended to both my fellow horror loving schmoes and those just looking for a great apocalyptic movie. I love vampires and most things to do with an apocalypse and cannot fucking wait for Jim Mickle's next movie. This was a downbeat breath of fresh air in a genre that's been looking stale for a while now.