I recently joined the ranks of the cord cutters, that trail blazing group of pop culture junkies who grew tired of having the likes of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and DirecTV leaving our pockets looking like rabbit ears; word to Junior Mafia. In order to keep my pop culture vitamins and minerals in steady supply, I decided to invest in a few different pieces of streaming hardware to replace what I lost when I said “peace” to traditional cable tv. I have a smart tv in my bedroom, which allows me to stream video from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and YouTube. I also recently invested in a Roku 3, which I love. The Roku 3 is a set top box that connects to the net via wifi or ethernet cable. The Roku allows me to stream video and audio from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO GO, PBS, Crackle, YouTube, and Spotify to name a few of the outlets from which I am able to get out digital popular culture fix.
As an early cord cutter I have to say that while I save some serious dollars compared to what I previously paid every month for a full cable package, I’m missing out on FX, AMC, and a few other choices outlets that previously provided me with access to content like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story. In order to make up for what I’m missing I dug deep into the catacombs of the various Netflix genres and sub-genres to watch films, documentaries, and televisions shows I would otherwise have skipped if they showed up on cable. Most of the time, I regret having ever pressed play. However, from time to time I come across content so bad that it’s actually good, the modern B movie if you will. So, to that end, I present to you, faithful Blerds, Nerds, and Fan Bros, my Awfully Awesome Streaming Video reviews (Hashtag #AASV).
This week’s review is of a film called Stake Land. Originally released in 2010, Stake Land is a film that is equal parts vampire, post apocalyptic America, and teenage love story.
The film takes place in an America that has been overrun by some sort of zombie/vampire hybrid (Vampie? Zompire?). The hybrid monsters are mindless, feed on blood, nocturnal, have reptilian brain function, and those who are bitten by one of them are doomed to live life among them, spreading the vampire plague. The creatures are able to withstand extreme bodily harm, but a stake to the heart or removal of the head keeps them down for good. Pretty cool, right?
Mister and Martin are the film’s protagonists. Mister, a vampire hunter, meets Martin one night when he tracks a vampire to Martin’s family home. The vampire kills Martin’s family, and before he dies Martin’s father asks Mister to look out for him. Much like every other story with a youngish protagonist, the parents are swiftly removed from the picture, forcing Martin to immediately become a man in this new America.
The film’s plot is fairly predictable. Mister and Martin slash their way across America, killing vampires, getting into fights, and avoiding danger as they try to find the one place in the country that is safe from the vampire menace, New Eden. Along the way, they encounter one of many strange religious cults that “have spread like wildfire across the southern states” (it would be in the south, wouldn’t it?) now that the government is essentially a memory. The cults claims that the vampire plague is a curse from God for the sinful lives that Americans led prior to the apocalypse, and the only path to redemption is through devotion to God. I’ll let you watch the film for yourself to see how well that works out.
The post apocalyptic theme that runs throughout the movie is more Walking Dead than Dracula. Vampire stories are usually filled with sex, mystery, and intrigue with the vampire in popular culture typically being portrayed as something seductive. In Stake Land, the film makers turn them into monsters, literally and figuratively. This turn on the cliche worked for me. It’s difficult to romanticize the undead when they look like what they are.
The film ends with the introduction of a new, smarter vampire, the death of one of our protagonists, and the possibility of a sequel.
I gave the film 4 out of 5 stars because the film makers managed to make something original by mashing up the best (worst) aspects of vampires and zombies and making a film that lives and breathes almost entirely on Netflix that is far better than most of the stories coming out of either genre. Predictability aside, the actors, cinematography, makeup, and score were all pretty decent.