The end of the world has been done before with varying approaches, the punchy laughs of Zombieland and the bleakly depressing, The Road; Stakeland edges towards the latter as we travel through familiar wasteland with Nick Damici’s ‘Mister’ and Connor Paolo’s ‘Martin’ on the way to sanctuary in “New Eden”.
After saving Martin from certain death at the hands of a marauding Vamp, Mister takes him under his wing, showing him the ways of bloodsucker slaying.
Picking up Kelly McGillis’s ‘Sister’ on the way, pregnant teenager Belle (Danielle Harris) and Military man Willie (Sean Nelson), Stakeland makes significant commentary on themes of religion, war and the burden of the weak slowing down the strong. It’s a good try at elevating itself and to offer more on what’s come before on the apocalyptic road to refuge, but it has been done better before now.
But instead of portraying an apocalyptic America of complete isolation, Stakeland achieves some success by presenting a world still with some society, now existing in small pockets of population in locked down towns that are as treacherous as the Vampire infested wilderness, asking the always compelling question of man’s danger to itself; none more so in Michael Cerveris’ ‘brotherhood’, a ruthless band of religious fundamentalists offering the greatest threat to our nomadic band.
Characterisation is pretty standard and acting is solid all round apart from Cerveris delivering a typical ‘southern’ priest – ‘Jebedia’ that descends into the accustomed and unintentionally comedic when delivering some clumsy dialogue. Only Mister offers any dimension with an eluded history and demons of his own.
With an independent budget and feel the action and effects are of varying quality. A contrived, sporadic narrative tells nothing more than what we already seen in familiar, better executed post-apocalyptic road movies.
Owing much to what has come before; Stakeland has some style of its own but doesn’t deliver on its early promise to do anything different with the end of the world.