Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the action/horror movie STAKE LAND II: THE STAKELANDER by directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. To best describe the story I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:
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 American searching for his mentor and legendary vampire hunter, Mister, to help him get his revenge.
Listen, we all know that sequels, prequels, spinoffs, and remakes are all the rage right now and any feature that turns some kind of profit must obviously be milked for one of the aforementioned options. The same audience that loved, or was scared by, or heard good things about the first one will surely show up for a second outing as they are always curious as to how this latest chapter will fare. The question now becomes, does every film deserve this sort of treatment?
In the case of the latest chapter in the STAKE LAND saga I could argue that yes, this did earn its place as a welcome entry. Here we have the incredibly well developed survivors of the first picture wondering if their existence is even worthwhile as the world continues to crumble into a vampire apocalypse. This flipping of the script from action based into a more pensive piece made for an entirely different experience that made this one of the few sequels that offers the audience something new.
After watching the opening, I would even argue that this sequel is entirely new viewer friendly as we are quickly brought up to date on what has happened between the first and second feature. Of course, fans of the original will still find the same characters waiting for them within and should feel satisfied with the work done to advance each of their arcs. I was fairly impressed that this chapter managed to build upon the first film while still remaining entirely self-contained.
While I did enjoy the story overall, it was not quite as strong as the original due to some pacing and character development issues. The character problems came not from our returning cast, but from the newly created roles which never felt as fully fleshed out as I would have liked. If we had spent a bit more time with these new faces and a bit less time showing our leads walking across the wastelands, I imagine their roles would have felt much better rounded.
Granted, the actors themselves still managed to turn in quality performances, even if their character was underwritten. Of particular note was the new addition Lady, whose backstory we are left to draw from her enactment. Her implied innocence and break from reality reveal to the audience not only the fatherly nature of Mister, but also what could have happened to Martin had he not received the proper guidance in the first film.
All in all, this sequel does not just give us more of the same, but goes out of its way to dig into the evolving philosophies of these familiar characters. People who have never seen the original or fans of the first chapter will both feel right at home in this more cerebral second outing. Fans of STAKE LAND (2010) and THE ROAD (2009) should check out this feature.
STAKE LAND II comes to HD Digital Platforms on February 7, 2017
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