Stake Land 2 (2016)

stakeland2Fans have wanted a sequel to “Stake Land” since its premiere in 2011, and while the conditions of it being a TV movie aren’t ideal, thankfully the follow up is just as good as the original. Dan Berk and Robert Olsen continue what Jim Mickle started delivering a sequel that’s just as bleak and complex as the original. “Stake Land 2,” once known by the superior title “The Stakelander,” takes off six years after we met the dynamic team of Martin and his enigmatic mentor Mister. Fans of the original will be happy to know that original stars Connor Paolo and Nick Damici return as the characters of Martin and Mister, with the sequel placing a greater emphasis on Martin as an adult. Writer Nick Damici also returns to progress the characters further and does a bang up job opening up this world even further and unfolding a narrative that transforms in to a whole other tale of survival and revenge by the second half.

Not many writers could pull off the switch by the second half, but Damici is very good about it, offering up a movie where fate and vengeance play a strong hand here. Martin is six years older and now lives in a cabin alongside his wife and young son. After going out for a hunt, Martin is horrified to discover his family has been attacked by a horde of vampires. His wife and son are murdered, leaving Martin craving vengeance against the one eyed leader of the horde that led the siege. Martin ventures out in to the bad lands of the vampire apocalypse to look for Mister again. Hoping against hope that he’s still alive, Martin puts himself in constant danger left and right crossing paths with all kinds of apocalyptic hazards. When Martin finally finds Mister, things aren’t exactly as ideal as either of them had hoped, especially with their newest sanctuary under a heavy threat by the newest leader of the vampire horde, and the massive cult of Christian fanatics “The Brotherhood,” both of whom are still working together to bring down humanity.

Brian Spears and Pete Gerner, the same effects team of the original “Stake Land” return as well to give their unique vampires their horrific visage that haunt both Mister and Martin. They’re a terrifying cross of vampire and zombie, and are relentless in their blood lust, even spooking seasoned hunters we’re introduced to later in the movie. There are some great new characters introduced, including Peggy, a feral young woman and loyal sidekick to Mister, as well as Doc Earl and Bat, two very vicious vampire hunters who lead the sanctuary in the middle of the bad lands. A.C. Peterson and Steven Williams are an absolutely welcome addition to the mythology of “Stake Land.” I’m not sure if “Stake Land 2” is acting as a jumping off point for a sequel or a TV series, but the film itself props up some indications of future storylines, while unfolding a pretty satisfying tale all its own.

I enjoyed “Stake Land 2” a great deal, and I’d love to see another sequel or perhaps a limited series somewhere down the line. These characters have proven to be very compelling and engaging in a pretty unique apocalyptic scenario.