Stake Land II Movie Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
Released by Dark Sky Films
Directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen
Written by Nick Damici
2016, 81 minutes, Not Rated
VOD release on February 7th, 2016 | Blu-ray/DVD released on February 14th, 2017
Connor Paolo as Martin
Nick Damici as Mister
Laura Abramsen as Lady
Steven Williams as Doc Earl
A.C Peterson as Bat
In the sequel to the dystopian vampire flick Stake Land, the tale picks up about ten years after the events of the first film. Stake Land II opens with the protagonist, Martin (Connor Paolo), losing Peggy and their child at the hands of a reformed Brotherhood and their newly aligned vamp-leader, The Mother. Lost without his newfound family and among the ruins of New Eden, Martin takes back to the stake land roads in search for Mister (Nick Damici), the mysterious hunter who mentored and fathered him. Out to seek revenge on the ruthless clan who destroyed his family, the duo meet in an unusual manner and are back in action. In a world overrun by tyrant religious zealots and the fanged undead, their journey is more challenging than ever.
Since first watching Stake Land when released back in 2010, a sequel was something I anticipated. The unique yet familiar relationship between Martin and Mister taps into a virtuous state, also forming a bond between these characters and the filmgoer. Along with a solid father/son theme surging through the story, the film also presents some disgustingly gorgeous vampires and their interesting cohorts, The Brotherhood. Together they form a dastardly antagonistic partnership and cause chaos through North America. All these aspects blend to form a dark and dreary tale, enhanced visually by phenomenal camera shots of the landscape/set design, and the brutally bloody special effects.
In Stake Land II, all the elements forge together again, but the product does not hold up as strong second time around. The film’s production is top notch and keeps in the same vein as the original, although it does not grab the viewer by the lapels as Stake Land did. The relationship between Martin and Mister is still the driving pulse, but the rest of the subplot feels redundant, transgressive and uneventful. That is not to say this is a bad movie by any means. Stake Land II is an entertaining homecoming to this realm.
The sequel does not tarnish the original’s thumbprint on the genre, as there is nothing groundbreaking like its predecessor. The missing presence of Damici’s creative partner Jim Mickle is felt. Olsen and Berk direct with sudden pacing and it does not dawdle during the 81-minute runtime. One of the major issues with Stake Land II is the intelligence factor. Everything is on the page, and there is no mystery or allure in this story. Predictability is easy; who wants to spend time and brain power on an effortlessly foreseeable outcome? For example, most viewers know a generator will become a significant factor when a character emphasizes it multiple times in a scene. The filmmakers might as well put a glowing aura around anything resembling Chekov’s gun, since they seem to think people are incapable of analyzing a story. Treating the audience with inferior intellect is one of my pet peeves and is a constant in Hollywood filmmaking; hence, why I try to stray away.
Put aside the aforementioned flaw and Stake Land II is a fun, one-time-watch kind of flick. The adventure and emotion is present, but in an all too familiar extent, as the nostalgia runs out about halfway through. The murky tone, make-up, special effects and cinematography are parallel to the original film. Fans of Stake Land will enjoy a return to a vampire-ridden post-apocalyptic America, as will newcomers to the series. If you have not seen the original, be sure to sink your teeth into that first... but beware!