Film / Stake Land

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Stake Land is a 2010 vampire film about a teenager and the man who saved his life accumulating a small group of survivors trying to survive and avoid feral vampires and a twisted cult in a post-apocalyptic world, fighting their way to what they hope to be a safe zone in Quebec, or "New Eden".

The brutality and horror of this new world is self-evident from the outset and yet there is still those have hope and rare moments of joy within this harsh setting. The film received generally positive reviews but only a limited release, which makes it something of a hidden gem for fans of the genre.

A sequel, Stakelander, was released in 2016.


Tropes:

  • Actionized Sequel: While the first movie can be seen as a Spiritual Successor to The Road, its sequel has more in common with Mad Max.
  • After the End: The world has been infested with Vampires and society has collapsed. The vamps have ravaged America and it's long since fallen. Later we learn the Middle East is swarming with them to the extent the military action there was called to an end because there was no human enemy left to fight. Once the US government leaders flee, leaving their countries high and dry, most soldiers abandon their posts to try and make it to their families. Apocalyptic cults emerge shortly thereafter and rumours of cannibals are mentioned.
  • A God Am I: When Jebediah becomes a sentient/sapient vampire, he views himself as a vengeful god.
  • Back for the Dead: Sister returns, having escaped the Brotherhood. Sadly this only prolongs her life in the long run.
  • Badass Normal: Mister is just a normal human but he has killed a lot of vampires and is an experienced hunter.
  • Badass Longcoat: Mister sports one of these. In the finale Martin sports a black one, symbolising him having become a hunter in his own right.
  • Battle Couple: In the interlude between the original and the sequel, Martin and Peggy. In the sequel proper, Bat and Doc Earl.
  • Big Bad: Jebediah Loven, leader of the Brotherhood. He becomes even more dangerous in the finale after being turned vampire but still retaining his mind, warped though it is.
  • The Berserker: Berserkers are older vampires that are not only stronger but their breastplates have become too dense to stake. A stab to the base of the skull is the only reliable melee method of putting them down without being able to get to the heart.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Sister shoots herself rather than be eaten by vampires.
  • Blessed with Suck: Vampires are very powerful, and only staking, sunlight, and severing their spine can kill them. However, they are very feral and have no human thoughts anymore, thus making becoming a vampire a Fate Worse Than Death and a guarantee to make one crazy and bloodthirsty. Only Jebediah manages to retain his "humanity", but it is unclear if he is a full vampire or still turning, and he was already insane to start with.
  • But Now I Must Go: When Mister sees Martin taking care of a vampire solo, he leaves for parts unknown.
  • Canada, Eh?: Canada, or New Eden, is a refuge from the vampires due to its cold weather.
  • Cult: The Brotherhood, which views the vampires as the work of God. Martin mentions several mad cults sprung up in the wake of the vampire pandemic.
  • Crapsack World: No place is truly safe in this reality: you can have gated and walled communities, sure, but that doesn't stop the Brotherhood from air-dropping a bunch of vampires into the middle of it. Even the most fortified areas, full of hunters, aren't entirely safe, as the Brotherhood is fully able to exploit what actually makes them fortified, such as vampire-melting UV lights, and destroy them.
  • Dark Messiah: The Brotherhood sees the Mother as this in The Stakelander.
  • Death from Above: The Brotherhood flies helicopters over towns, dropping vampires into them in order to destroy them.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Mister breaks down after killing the turned feral woman and declares that he can no longer hunt vampires. He lets Martin go — again — and fends off as many vampires as he can before presumably being killed offscreen.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Jebediah as a vampire.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jebediah Loven puts on a façade of civility, all whilst he's about commit such acts as murder, raping a woman or having a man eaten to death.
  • Foreshadowing: After the brotherhood attack a stronghold by dropping vamps into the settlement, one of their soldiers is seen with a bite on his neck and dark veins appearing on his face but still retains his mind. Later Jebediah has the same veins on this own face after being turned. It may be that in the early stages of infection victims retain their ability to think for a time.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sister pulls one, acting as a decoy to let the rest of the group get away.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Juda fakes pulling a Heel–Face Turn from the Brotherhood, and then uses a Wounded Gazelle Gambit to mount an escape, killing an innocent girl who had been taking care of him in the process. Suffice it to say, him dying by Martin's knife is fairly cathartic.
  • Idiot Ball: The characters methodically set up a perimeter of traps to alert them when vamps are coming, only to camp out in the open, in the middle of a junkyard, with dozens of rows of broken down cars the vamps can hide in and around. Although the group is alerted, they still don't know where the vamps are, leading to Sister's death.
    • Martin grasps it firmly in The Stakelander. After ten years of survival, you would think he would realize that the little girl he was chasing was obviously leading him into a trap.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Cannibals are thought to occupy New Eden, and we get to see some cannibals in action in the second film.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted in the first ten minutes, in which we see a vampire finishing draining Martin's baby sibling of blood. Also Belle and her child. And in The Stakelander, Martin and Peggy's daughter.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mister, who is tough and stoic but genuinely cares about Martin.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Mister's demeanour is as rough and hard as you'd expect for a man who's been hunting vampires for solo for a long time but he's still a good guy beneath it all.
  • Knight Templar: Jebediah Loven is the religious leader of cult that believes vampires are God's instruments on earth, sent to cleanse it and even has vamps dropped into nearby settlements to destroy them.
  • Mama Bear: The Mother in The Stakelander is angry because Mister killed one of her children.
    • Sister has shades of this towards Martin, as well, eventually pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to let the group survive rather than slow them down.
  • Morality Pet: Martin to Mister. Not that Mister is a bad guy.
  • Nice Guy: Martin is a normal, nice kid who finds himself caught up in a nightmare.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Mister leaving Jebediah to the vampires instead of just killing him directly leads to the death of two of their friends. Leaving his son to die slowly instead of finishing him quick was what set the Brotherhood after them in the first place.
  • No Name Given: Mister is known only by his moniker and his true name is never revealed.
  • New York State: The second half of the film takes place here.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are tough, but feral, and have lost most of their intelligence.
  • Parental Substitute: Sister takes a motherly attitude towards Martin and Belle. Mister, meanwhile, is a Team Dad.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Mister has zero issues with murdering rapists on the spot and leaving members of the Brotherhood to die slowly rather than simply kill them quick and be done with it. This comes back to bite him in the ass twice.
  • Precision F-Strike: Of all people, Sister drops one of these prior to her death when she fights a pack of Berserkers to save Martin and the rest.
    "Come on, you fuckers."
  • Promotion to Parent: Mister is this to Martin, outright calling him his son at the finale of the second film.
  • Red Shirt: Only Mister and Martin make it to the end of the film. The three people they take on die, although they're more fleshed out than typical Red Shirts.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The Brotherhood is implied to be white supremacist on top of their cultish behaviors, judging by how Jebediah describes Sister as being of "pure stock" and their references to being "Aryan" on their radio broadcast.
  • Second Love: Assuming that Belle was the first love for Martin, Peggy becomes his second.
  • Ship Tease: Between Martin and Belle. It unfortunately leads to Ship Sinking when the latter dies.
  • Straight Gay: In the sequel, Bat and Doc Earl are grizzled, manly hunters, and are in a relationship.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Peggy is killed by a Brotherhood member in the opening of The Stakelander, and it's implied that this is the case for Mister at the end.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Sister, who's a nun, keeps her faith even in the post-apocalyptic world. Her character arc even symbolizes it, as she sacrifices herself twice to save Martin and the group, with the second time causing her death. Christian scripture is incredibly positive towards the notion of sacrifice for the sake of others.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Sister, Willie, and Belle are all good people, and all meet bloody endings in the terrible world that they've been forced into.
  • The Unreveal: It is never clear whether New Eden is in fact a place of safety or full of cannibals like it is rumored to be. Averted as of the sequel, where Martin is living in a rural cottage on the outskirts of New Eden.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: There is never any information where the vampires came from or many specifics about how far their rampage has reached, other than the United States and (in mentioning) the Middle East.
  • Zombie Advocate: Sister briefly cries out for the duo to stop beating a vampire she once knew when it was human. Though she quickly realizes Mister and Martin are performing a necessary evil.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Not literally zombies of course, but the vampires here mostly behave like zombies.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/StakeLand