Stake Land II (aka The Stakelander) review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
For the uninitiated, Stake Land II (also titled The Stakelander internationally) is a sequel to Stake Land, a very creatively done film involving vampires, stakes (both figuratively and literally), and vampire killers as well. After all of that was said and done in the first film, Stake Land II continues with the story of Martin (played by Connor Paolo), who wanders through mostly a wasteland in search of the mysterious “Mister” who taught him how to fight off the undead right from when he was just a boy. Meanwhile, Martin can’t bring himself to trust neither unturned humans, nor the ravenous vampires, and so his quest becomes – plain and simple – to survive.
This time however, Martin packs more punch than the Martin we’ve known from the previous film, and so the emotional resolutions he gets to have are more gritty and impactful given the circumstances he’s in. His personal losses make him a more relatable character, but a more devastated as well while we’re at it, and therefore Martin is detached from all emotional bearings except from killing the undead. And even then, he is the last one to manifest any kind of grieving since the stoicism is what kept him alive in the first place.
Meanwhile, “Mister” (an old vampire killer played by the creator Nick Damici) is perhaps the best side character ever. He acts both as a mentor to younger Martin and as a force not to be reckoned with. If you thought Martin was devoted to stoicism, wait until you hear the tale of how “Mister” came to be; thankfully, instead of stumbling into expositional mess, Stake Land II uses “Mister’s” friends to tell his tale instead of the man himself. Ultimately, his backstory ends up being very important for the ending of the film and, to the surprise of no one, the best part of the film as well.
Stake Land II packs a decent amount of blood and gore for those that came looking for it; plus, the film also “nurtures” a sort of a revenge element that threads all throughout the offering and makes it a little more thrilling at times than what it needs to be. This thread also connects the two characters (Martin and “Mister”) in ways that are mostly clichéd at worst, creative misfiring at best. Story-wise, Stake Land II follows a very typical post-apocalyptic vampire-type narrative which again, proves that coming up with an original and fun story is harder than it looks like.
Ultimately, if you want to get your creative juices flowing without having to drive 3 hours in order to see the latest Marvel offering – then Stake Land II would be your closest alternative period.