Stake Land

Low-budget vampire thriller showcases plenty of high-definition thrills and chills

Having made a name for himself with horror fans with the surprisingly effective ultra-low budget shocker Zombie Virus on Mulberry Street in 2006, director Jim Mickle has stepped up his game for this even more impressive follow-up flick. Playing out a bit like The Road, albeit with monsters lurking around every corner, Stake Land follows a small group of survivors as they try to reach safety in post-apocalyptic world overrun by a vampire epidemic. 

While it rarely strays beyond stock types for its characters, the film paints a fascinating and utterly convincing picture of a world decimated by unspeakable horrors. It’s a place you want to explore, to see more of. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s also populated by the most vicious and bloodthirsty vampires to hit the silver screen in many a year.

Picture: The Red One has fast become the digital camera of choice for filmmakers working on budgets of all sizes, and this Blu-ray release of Stake Land leaves you in no doubt that director Jim Mickle has joined the club. Presented via an AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode, Stake Land’s visuals are generally sharp and detailed, albeit tinged with moments of black crush and a flatness that is typical of material shot using Red One cameras. Technical flaws such as artefacting and edge enhancement are nowhere to be found, although minor banding does occur from time to time in the intentionally desaturated palette. Overall, this Blu-ray boasts a commendable hi-def encode that does everything that is asked of it.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: Stake Land boasts a surprisingly atmospheric DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Whether it’s simply atmospheric effects like the sounds of insects in the woods, or more directional content such as the noise of a helicopter buzzing across the speakers, the mix makes constant use of the entire soundstage with incredibly accurate and convincing panning effects throughout. The subwoofer doesn’t miss out on the action either, with many of the vampire attacks backed up by some serious bass hits. Meanwhile, both the dialogue and subdued score are handled with aplomb.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: This Blu-ray disc comes loaded with an interesting collection of extras. Detailed accounts of the creation of the film can be found in the two feature-length commentary tracks included on the disc, as well as the 62min Making of Stake Land documentary (which relies a little too heavily on raw behind-the-scenes footage rather than interviews). There’s also the excellent 15min Director’s Pre-Production Diary, which looks at the film’s evolution from a web series to a full-blown feature. Rounding things off are a 2min reel of VFX Breakdowns and a collection of six character-specific webisodes set just prior to the events shown in the film.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: An impressive hi-def package makes this satisfying vampire flick worth a quick bite.

Metrodome, All-region BD, £20 approx, On sale now