"Stake Land" was released in 2010 with little fanfare. At a comparatively short 1 hour and 38 minutes, it manages to tell a somewhat similar story to that of "The Book of Eli." It is a post-apocalyptic vision full of decaying vampires, depressing landscapes, and religious fanaticism. Here, a well-armed, mysteriously well-trained loner named Mister takes in a young orphan named Martin and trains him to become a ruthless vampire-hunter. On their cross-country voyage to a place called New Eden, they meet up with a nun, a pregnant teenager, and an ex-soldier - forming a new, oddball family unit in a world of death.
Yes, in a lot of ways, the movie is that dramatic. Every single situation is, understandably, a matter of life and death. But "Stake Land" takes it several steps too far. The survivors aren't just fighting starvation; they're fighting vampires. They're not just trying to find a place to live; they're forced to sneak their way around a cult known as The Brotherhood, which is dedicated to spreading the vampire plague as far as they can. And Martin and Mister don't just have to fight for themselves; they have to protect a nun who's been raped, a perky pregnant girl, and a lonely Marine. "Stake Land" really pulls out all the stops to convince you that the main characters are the good guys. Then, just like in any good horror movie, those characters consistently put themselves into dangerous situations that Sarah Palin would have the sense to avoid (maybe). If you don't shout at the screen at least once during this movie, then you better hope a zombie or vampire apocalypse never actually happens because you would probably be the first to die.
The music is at turns whimsical and brooding, similar in tone to "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." It lends much-needed gravitas to a movie that is otherwise a cross between "The Road" and "Zombieland." There is no outright humor, yet there is very little sense of urgency. You don't feel the danger, which makes it hard to care. Genre-bending can be done well, but "Stake Land" tries so hard to be so many things - horror, drama, coming-of-age, romance - that you might end up with whiplash trying to keep up.
It's not bad. Don't avoid it. But maybe there was a reason many people didn't hear about this back in 2010.