In a bleak near future America that has been overrun by vampires, a vampire hunter (Nick Damici) takes a teenage orphan (Connor Paolo) under his wing and teaches him the rules of survival in terrific indie horror thriller Stake Land.
The pair make their way north to the promised safety of ‘New Eden’ (present-day Canada), killing the vampires they encounter and dodging members of a Bible-bashing cult that worships the bloodsuckers and is almost as dangerous. Along the way, they pick up a handful of fellow survivors, a nun (Kelly McGillis), a former Marine (Sean Nelson) and a pregnant singer (Danielle Harris), but the odds of them reaching New Eden are stacked against them.
With Stake Land, director Jim Mickle and co-writer and star Damici (makers of 2006 horror flick Mulberry Street) have come up with a toothsome hybrid of cinema’s vampire and post-apocalypse genres. Substitute vampires for zombies, remove the laughs, and the story of grizzled loner taking a callow youngster under his wing as they fight off ravening hordes is a pretty good summary of 2009’s Zombieland. Substitute father figure for father, remove the supernatural elements, and you have The Road.
For all its echoes and influences, though, Stake Land is very much its own movie. Disguising a low budget with artful location shooting, Mickle convincingly establishes the story’s vampire-ravaged landscape and creates an unnerving portrait of an annihilated civilisation. The sense of menace this gives the film means that Mickle doesn’t have to cram the plot with incident in order to keep the viewer gripped. Instead, the pace is deliberately measured, with time to spare for the orphan hero’s elegiac voiceover narration. When the action comes, however, it does so in savage and bloody bursts
On general release from 17th June.