Stars: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Laura Abramsen, A.C. Peterson, Steven Williams, Bonnie Dennison, Kristina Hughes | Written by Nick Damici | Directed by Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
When Stake Land released, it was a breath of fresh air for lovers of the fanged monsters. The vampires were back, and in a movie, that used them well. Now that Stake Land II is here, does it manage the same?
When Martin’s (Connor Paolo) wife and daughter are murdered by a group of vampires controlled by a vampire known as The Mother (Kristina Hughes), he goes in search of Mister (Nick Damici). Knowing the old vampire hunter can help him defeat this new vampire.
Stake Land II is a welcome return to the post-apocalyptic world of vampires, where humanity is sparse and the vampires and their followers are now in control. The Mother is an interesting vampire that we don’t really see enough of, but still has a big impact.
Whether Martin is with his wife and daughter, or with Mister and his new companion Lady (Laura Abramsen) Stake Land II is about family. Both Martin and Mister have the same need for vengeance, though his has become more controlled in the many years since he lost his family.
What makes Stake Land and Stake Land II different from just another vamp-fest is the focus on the human survivors in a world infested with vampires. It works on a level very much like The Walking Dead, where survivors band together to fight for survival. This isn’t about how to rid society of a menace, it is about surviving in a new world.
In Stake Land II it is a very welcome return of Nick Damici as Mister, a character that is in many ways a simple cowboy style character. Damici gives the character more of a human side though and fleshes him out. If anything, he acts as a beacon of hope, not only for Martin but Lady who is also an interesting character.
A feral woman who has somehow survived the wilds, her connection to Mister is that of a daughter, which is why he protects her. He is very much the father figure to those who travel with him, which shows the importance of family, especially when humanity is at such low levels.
It really comes as no surprise that the nemesis to Mister would be The Mother. While we don’t really get to see much of her in the film, when we do, her scenes have a big impact. Whether it is her history with Mister, her killing of Martin’s family or her leading of the vampire army, she is very much Mister’s equal in batter, if not superior in skill.
For those who were fans of Stake Land, Stake Land II carries on the good work we saw in the first film. It may feel a little smaller in scale than the original, it manages to be a more personal film to Mister and Martin. The reunion to share pain, to rediscover the connection between the two, and get vengeance instantly connects with the audience.
For those who haven’t seen Stake Land and want consider Stake Land II, it is a movie that also works on its own level. If anything, after you’ve seen it you can also be happy in the knowledge that you have a prequel that promises even more of the relationship between Mister and Martin. While we may not get a Stake Land III, these two movies are well worth checking out, whatever order you see them in.
Stake Land II is available on DVD in the UK now.