September 6, 2011

Justify My Netflix: Stake Land

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Stake Land

Today's movie: Stake Land, 2010 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this is literally one of those unheard-of, undistributed indie films that I only heard about because of subscribing to Netflix's weekly "New Releases" RSS feed; and as we've learned in the past, this can sometimes earth up surprisingly great flicks, which in my opinion is one of the best things about even belonging to Netflix in the first place.

The reality: Fantastic! And this gets into something I've talked about here before, of how much I love the rise these days of the brand-new "semi-mainstream" classification of indie filmmaker; because since even the tiniest production crews can now pretty easily get their hands on some really sophisticated equipment, sometimes literally the same digital cameras that the big Hollywood studios themselves now use, it lets them output a finished film that looks almost as good as a Hollywood one in quality, leveling the playing field and letting them concentrate more on writing, acting, tone and other kinds of intangibles that indies are always better at. In this case, then, this tech is combined with a surprisingly mature script by Nick Damici and Jim Mickle (the latter of whom is also the director, the former also the main star), set in a post-apocalyptic America overrun by "28 Days Later" style feral zombies; and while it definitely features its share of overacting bald Evangelical villains with ridiculously over-the-top Ozark accents, for the most part you can place this film in more of the serious, high-minded vein of Richard Matheson or The Walking Dead than the corny black comedies that so usually define the zombie genre. Now add to this much better sets and costumes than you would expect a no-budget production like this to have (not to mention a surprise appearance by '80s Hollywood staple Kelly McGillis), plus not just the ability to keep up with Hollywood in terms of scares and gore but with even a chilling scene in the middle that's actually better than most of the mainstream genre films I've seen in the last few years (in which our baddies literally drop zombies from the air into our heroes' "safe town" in the middle of the night via stolen military helicopters, the whole thing filmed reality-show-style), and you wind up with a movie that is insanely well worth any horror fan's time, a little gem of a B-flick that can compete with a typical Lionsgate release any day of the week. It comes highly recommended to that specific crowd.

Worth your time? If you're a horror fan, then hell yes

Filed by Jason Pettus at 2:51 PM, September 6, 2011. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |