STAKE LAND II
Stake Land II, also referred to as The Stakelander and Stake Land II: The Stakelander, is a sequel where the two lead actors, Nick Damici and Connor Paolo, repeat the same roles they did the first time. Damici returns to write the script again, while the show is again overseen by Larry Fessenden (who has a small role as one of the defenders during the climactic siege). Jim Mickle however has departed and has been replaced by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen who had previously written-directed the thriller Body (2015) and written the script for Mike Mendezs fun body-hopping effort Dont Kill It (2016). The anticipation is that Stake Land II should offer more of what worked so well the first time around.
As such, Stake Land II approximates the same desolate, wintry landscapes of the first film. There are similar bleak voiceovers as the characters reflect on the world around them. But the result is not the same. Part of the problem is that Stake Land had a clearcut road movie/quest plot as we joined the characters and saw the exploration of the world around the periphery throughout the course of their journey. By contrast, Stake Land II lacks such a drive. The early scenes are driven by Martins quest to find Mister. Things pick up slightly once Nick Damici is reintroduced to the show but even then most of his performance feels like a cliche of the wry, flinty wisdom that you would imagine being delivered by a Kris Kristofferson or Jeff Bridges character. There is the interesting new character of the She-Vamp known as The Mother and Martins determination to kill her in revenge for the murder of his wife and daughter. On the other hand, The Mother never does anything other than hang about and snarl when you cannot help but feel the film would have gained a good deal more if she had been built out into a worthwhile nemesis.
After Martin and Mister are reacquainted and make an escape, the plot loses focus. The show seems to shuffle through episodic encounters in various communities that the characters stumble into, followed by a siege climax. A sense of the ramshackle nature of the script comes early on where Martin encounters a middle-aged couple on a farm who invite him to stay only to then attack him in the night. Who they are and why they are attacking him is never given any explanation. Many of these sequences seem to draw from other post-holocaust films the scenes where Martin is forced to compete in a to-the-death-gladiatorial combat is reminiscent of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), while the siege climax where a small peaceful community hold off against the crazies is very much reminiscent of Mad Max 2 (1981), albeit where this film strains to make the action look epic on a low-budget.