The success of the Twilight franchise and programmes such as True Blood have spawned an ever growing number of vampire-based films. Throughout this period the idea of post-apocolyptic worlds has also seen a rejuvenation in films such as The Road and even on the small screen with The Walking Dead. With Stake Land these two sub-genres come crashing together in a film that attempts to explore how people would react when faced with their extinction and their own humanity.

Directed and co-penned by relative newbie to the director’s chair, Jim Mickle, Stake Land is the story of a man and a boy simply trying to survive in a world that has been ravaged by a plague which turns a huge amount of the population into creatures of the night. In his quest to hunt vampires, 'Mister' (played by co-writer Nick Damici) saves the life of a boy whose parents have been killed by the creatures, and so adopts him and makes him his beast-killing protege. The film focuses on the desire of both characters to reach ‘New Eden’, previously known as Canada, where it is rumoured that there are no vampires. However they must battle their way across infested territory, and defend themselves against religious zealots intent on killing all those who have seen this plague as god’s punishment, and intend to help along the destruction.

The acting is solid throughout the film as the audience begins to connect and even care for many of the central characters. We are truly convinced of the desolate world in which these people inhabit and the fact that this is not simply a completely CG driven environment certainly adds to this. The film is gritty and gory and everything that could be expected of a low-ish budget thriller-horror.

However, Stakeland attempts to be much more than a simple vampire flick, and is certainly not for the camps of either Jacob or Edward, and in many ways it is. Whilst trying to imagine how normal people would react in such a world the film also has its light moments and even manages a couple of jibes at its genre most notably when Damici is rubbing Garlic oil on his stake, Paolo asks “does that really work”, Damici responds “doesn’t hurt”. Despite these glimmers Stake Land attempts to cram almost too much into its extremely short run time and ends up with a lot left unresolved and much more unsaid.

Mickle handles what is a clearly low budget film very expertly and delivers a movie that is both intriguing and exciting. There are some truly gripping moments of suspense however Stake Land struggles to find what its really about and loses its way slightly in a rather odd and convoluted plot line. Trying to stuff one more of anything into an already over-saturated market was never going to be an easy task, however it is one that Mickle and his colleagues perform relatively well. While it attempts slightly too much in its analysis of humanity it does grip the viewer and pull them into a world that is both terrifying and almost believable.