Guess who's on the menu?
Guess who's on the menu?

(15) 98mins

Director: Jim Mickle

Starring: Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Kelly McGillis

AFTER the many recent big and small screen vampire thrillers, all starring actors with model-like features, Stake Land strips away all the gloss for a gritty, no holds barred blood-fest.

The best comparison I can give is a mix of The Road and 28 Days Later.

It’s a horror movie which unusually has a decent plot and, thanks to some pretty good acting, provides plenty of thrills as you end up caring about the main characters.

As in The Road, we are in post-apocalyptic America - this time an epidemic has turned most of the population into vampires.

However, the only resemblance to your normal vampire is that they like blood and hate the daylight.

These ones look and act more like the zombies in 28 Days Later and have a habit of dribbling blood.

We follow teenager Martin (Paolo) who is rescued from certain death by a mysterious stranger called - mysteriously - Mister (Damici).

They decide to travel north to Canada which has been renamed New Eden and that is just one of several nods to religion.

Another major one is that hundreds of ‘normal’ people have banded together to form a quasi-religious grounp called the Brotherhood who are just as unpleasant as the vampires.

Our intrepid duo are joined at one stage by a nun (McGillis) and there are various crucifix references.

Putting the symbolism aside, this is a powerful action film, though the fight scenes are a million miles away from those in Twilight.

Stakes are shoved through flesh with plenty of squelchy sound effects and you just know while watching that not everyone we meet in the movie is going to survive.

Overall it’s a grim and powerful story that deserves the plaudits it’s received - though perhaps it does take itself too seriously.

three out of five stars

Steve Payne