Directed by: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Cast: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Laura Abramsen
It’s really hard to believe that Stake Land II made its debut on SyFy. As most know, SyFy is all but synonymous with cheap, intentionally goofy films that are drenched in pathetic “CGI.” But Stake Land II, or Stakelander as it’s also being called, isn’t noticeably cheap, it isn’t intentionally goofy and it sports next to no computer generated imagery. In short, this is a film that has no business making a debut on SyFy. It’s also a very, very serviceable follow-up to the surprise vamp flick, Stake Land, despite what some pundits may have you believe.
The story opens with a look at Martin, the young man who was “adopted” in the first flick by Mister, before Mister vanished into the great unknown. Martin desperately hunts for the man – the only man (who’s extremely seasoned in the art of slaying) he trusts to properly dispose of vampires. But he has another mission to boot, he’s after The Mother, the leader of the Brotherhood and devilish beast of a woman who slaughtered Martin’s family. He seeks revenge, and whether he can find help from Mister or not, he knows what he must do to avenge his family.
The cross-country travel plays faithful to Mister and Martin’s journeys in the first flick, and their desire to find a home that may offer a little peace is also intact. However in the time to pass between the first pic and the second, a lot has changed. And Martin will soon realize that once he does finally manage to track down Mister.
I won’t spoil the interesting developments in the story, and I won’t completely highlight each character’s existence in this post-apocalyptic world since parting ways. What I will say is that there are some great early conflicts to be overcome, and we even get a nod to a certain Mad Max film that fans should really get a big kick out of.
As for plot details, that’s the end here. I can’t bring myself to spoil an action-heavy tale that juggles human emotion on an often times heartbreaking level.
The acting in Stake Land II is every bit as impressive as the acting offered forth from the movie’s predecessor. Connor Paolo, who portrays Martin has grown as a performer to a great degree. While we still see hints of the child we met in Stake Land, he generally gives off a much more mature and calculating vibe. He’s grown, and we get to see and appreciate that. As for the studly Nick Damici, he’s still fantastic, and like Martin, you can see that time and countless battles have also forced him to mature. Father time is also catching up to the man, and he sells the physical decline perfectly. There are some fine supporting characters, but this franchise has always been about these two, and it was great to see that directors Dan Berk, and Robert Olsen asked nothing out of character of these two. It was also great to see them stick with the tone of the first flick.
Stake Land II may not be as impacting or memorable as the franchise first, but it is quite the impressive sequel. This is an entertaining, heartbreaking and often terrifying addition to the horror genre, and hopefully just the second film in what I’d love to see stretch to a three or four film saga.