There are times when movies are announced, their release date comes and goes, and you hear nothing about the film at all. No good opinions, no negative criticisms, nothing. Generally, that’s not a good sign. I would just assume that means the movie was nothing special and isn’t worth anyone’s time. Oddly enough, however, that is certainly not the case with Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s 2016 film, Stake Land II, as it is a great sequel and a fantastic film, in general.
Ten years have passed since the events of Stake Land; Martin (Connor Paolo) and Peggy (Bonnie Dennison) are living happily with their daughter, Belle (named after Danielle Harris’ character from the first film) in New Eden. The town is ambushed and attacked by a reformed version of the brotherhood, led by their new messiah, The Mother, who savagely kills Peggy and Belle. Martin now seeks revenge, but knows his only hope of achieving it is by seeking out his former mentor, Mister (Nick Damici).
Originally titled The Stakelander, this sequel is the perfect continuation of the 2010 post-apocalyptic story of the unlikely duo, Mister and Martin. It was amazing to see Damici and Paolo reprise their roles six years after the first film. Martin is much older, more experienced, and hardened by his experiences in the desolate stake lands, while Mister seems to be slowing down in his old age. The roles are almost completely reversed this time around and it creates for a beautiful progression of the characters. Martin is much like his father-figure was in the previous film — ruthless and vengeful — and Mister is sentimental and caring.
Stake Land II features an amazing script, written completely by Damici, this time around. With much of the back story out-of-the-way, thanks to the Jim Mickle’s first installment, there is more room for straight-up vampire killing. That isn’t to say there isn’t any further development going on here. As I already mentioned, character progression is a big part of the plot, along with the introduction of the new antagonist, the vicious leader of both berserkers and men, The Mother. This ruthless bloodsucker is the perfect addition to an already savage world created by Damici and does a wonderful job showing us just how badly things have evolved since we last ran into these characters.
Stake Land II made its debut to horror fans on the Syfy channel. Films that have run this route, in the past, are usually low-budget, campy flicks that are only good because they fall into the ‘so bad, they are good’ category. Not Berk and Olsen’s film. No, this one is beautifully crafted and actually looks even better than the first one. The production quality is superb, while still remaining gritty, the vampires look more menacing than before, and the gore effects are bad-ass.
If you enjoyed the first film, years ago, you are definitely going to love this one. The stories blend perfectly with each other and I am glad I finally got around to checking this one out. After my viewing, I’m really confused as to why I never heard any other horror fans talking about it. I am hoping that this review reaches some of you guys, however, as it deserves to be spoken about for a long time.
Available now from Dark Sky Films, be sure to pick up Stake Land II on Blu-ray and HD Digital.
Stake Land II: The Stakelander gets 4 arrows to the eye out of 5 from yours truly!