BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
With stunning landscapes and a healthy dose of gore, Stake Land 2 stands tall right next to its heavily praised first outing. Not much has changed in the landscape, but the delivery is a bit more charged. In my review of the first film, I described the Stake Land atmosphere to be similar to The Road except with fangs. Well, that stark atmosphere and the fangs are back in what has to be one of the most non-mainstream successful sequels to date. Surprisingly, Stake Land 2 really is a good continuation of a narrative that didn’t need expanding.
Our leads – Nick Damici (who also wrote the film) as Mister and Connor Paolo as Martin – are a bit older and (maybe) wiser, but the past is long in the tooth and, when it comes calling for what was long ago stolen, there’s hell to pay. Co-starring Laura Abramsen, Steven Williams, and Alan Peterson, the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the future is full of the good, the bad, and the damned ugly. Leave it Mister and Martin to uncover the jewels in all the filth surrounding them.
Directed by Dan Berk & Robert Ohlsen, Stake Land 2 quickly catches us up to speed with Mister having long abandoned Martin and his new family; their two worlds just don’t mesh. It is a merciless killing by the revitalized Brotherhood of vampires that sends Martin through the badlands to find the whereabouts of Mister. He sees wanted posters and hears whispers of where his friend might be, but it his own journey – bringing him close to cannibals and more vampires than previously seen – that is really unnerving in this journey through the north.
This fight for survival might be a tad less suspenseful this time around, but that’s only because we now know the lay of the land. It is the villains – a new and improved brotherhood of vampires and their overlord, The Mother (Kristina Hughes) – that we should (and do) fear. Some of these new beasties are so quick-footed that even a master vampire hunter like Mister are caught off-guard. By land and by air, we know the charging vampires are up to something, we just don’t know what it is.
The sequel is strong on character development (which was a plus in the original) and that continues with some of the more dramatic events in the sequel morphing the father-and-son dynamic of the original. Mister, while still hardened, softens up enough to keep a feral young girl by his side. And Martin, who loses yet another family and is attacked by another, toughens up; no one gets in. In this manner, the sequel loads up on guns, dives into the action, and still manages to reward fans with all the elements that made the original film so memorable.
Filmed in secret by Dark Sky Films as part of a Glass Eye Pix production in association with Berserker Entertainment and Last Pictures, Stake Land 2 is yet another shining example that independent movies can do so much more with so very little. I know some people might be disappointed by some of the changes in the movie, but I’m not. All I have left to say is eat your heart out, Hollyweird. This team understands the methods of the follow-up.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 81 mins
Director: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Writer: Nick Damici
Cast: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Laura Abramsen
Genre: Horror | Action
Tagline: Death is no Escape.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Strange times we're living in."
Theatrical Distributor: Dark Sky Films
Release Date: No theatrical release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: February 14, 2017
Synopsis: When his home of New Eden is destroyed by a revitalized Brotherhood and its new Vamp leader, Martin finds himself alone in the badlands of America with only the distant memory of his mentor and legendary vampire hunter, Mister, to guide him.
Home Video Distributor: MPI Media Group
Available on Blu-ray - February 13, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-25); BD-Live
Region Encoding: Region A
Shot again with the Red One digital camera, Stake Land 2 literally looks like a big-budgeted Hollywood production. The smart-looking digital-to-digital 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is stamped with precise detail and rich colors. In fact, I’ve never seen this much texture before from an independent production. MPI Home Video and Dark Sky Films might have dropped the ball with the supplemental materials, but they are to be commended on the look of the transfer. Black levels are vibrant and inky but never bleed or overcompensate for other colors. Blues are stylistically heavy and the sound – presented here with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track – is exceptional.
While highly recommended, it is sad that there are no commentaries for the film.
Bonus extras on the Blu-ray release include a making-of featurette and trailer.
- Making-Of Stake Land 2