It is always a welcome surprise to discover a sleeper or well done indie movie as these tend to offer viewpoints or appreciate talents outside of the mainstream mush. Unfortunately the title Stake Land brings to mind plots driven more by gore and violence than a post apocalyptic tale of survival in a vampire infested world.
Stake Land is a low key tale of a journey towards the new Eden–a safe haven from vampires. It stars Connor Paolo known from Law and Order and Gossip Girl, Nick Damici from The Black Donnellys as well as an interesting appearance by Kelly McGillis.
This story is not the teen angst of Buffy, nor the sex fueled romp of True Blood, this is a realistic road trip of hope and angst done in an intelligent, realistic manner. The villains are entirely possible, the heroes probable, the relationships believable, and never is the viewer insulted with an implausible story line.
Stake Land might be a low key indie but nowhere does it show its cost as the film does not attempt to create situations the budget couldn’t afford. Everything used was done in a way that allowed the cast and story to excel and never was the viewer suspect of any limitations.
8/10 Absolutely worth the time
The problem with creating an alternate world is that it can never be confined to a simple story. With a world comes cultural expectations, social strictures and of course political agendas. Once these are added to the mix a book can become three in the blink of an eye and a romantic escapade transform into an arc across several books.
So now my little story about a wayward Elf has her instigating all sorts of drama while an obsessed prince chases her across worlds. Her side kick–a rather vain vampire has become a breakaway character and I am once again writing outlines for books to come. Then reality hits and I realise that I have set myself up for the next few years without even trying.
The joy of creating a world is that you are able to make something complete unique, the bane is that you have to address every logical issue or else it will look like an arbitrary wank of self indulgence. In order to be true their cultural bias some of my characters have less than stellar attitudes to those outside of their interests. I can see why this is the hardest of books to sell as I have to convince a publisher that following three characters across the journey of several books is a worthwhile and entertaining endeavour. Unfortunately for every interesting world that is created there are probably a thousand that can bore you to death. I still hope the unique structure of the books serves to intrigue and not scare away potential interest.
Oh well back to the grind!
Editing is the gremlin that shows not only your mistakes but where content and polish are required. Editing is called polishing for good reason as you have to do it more than once to get a finished product. When I finish a work I will do a first edit right away as I usually have a list of things that was made during the creation process. These are ideas, comments, additions that I want to use to enhance the story. With one foot still in the creation phase I find this edit to be interesting and easy. It’s after this the work needs to be put aside.
In my earlier edits I made the mistake of continuing work without a rest phase and that’s when the editing gremlins came out to play. When life finally intervened and I had to put it aside I was horrified upon return to discover just as many mistakes as I had been fixing. That’s when I learned a valuable lesson, for while others may write in a different fashion, the rest period really is invaluable for all. I find my mind fills in the blanks and since I know the story then I don’t pick up on what might confuse the reader. Once the story is acceptable I look at the overall plot to ensure it is credible, entertaining and logical.
The final edit is the breakdown of the story into sentences. This one I admit makes me want to go to sleep as it is as far removed from the excitement of creation as a project can get. After each one is examined you would think the job is finished but no. That’s when I send it off to a professional to critique it and learn the most valuable lesson of all–when you think you are done you are really about five more edits from being done.
I’ve just finished a MG manuscript and today starts going through the list. While writing a children’s story was fun, keeping the voice true was far more difficult than in the fantasy series. It’s too easy to drift into adult dialogue and concepts and so once again each section is examined for credibility, only this time it needs the approval of a ten year old boy!
It seems today that writing in a single genre is passe and if I was in touch with the market I would be busy creating the latest Werewolf Zombie Cannibal Apocalypse. As attractive as this gore-fest might be, I will stick to the Vampire of elegant but deadly proclivities. Although in my series it is the demons who are the most dangerous creatures. These are not demons as in religious creatures from hell but instead creatures that are ugly and therefore named as such by their human observers. The name stuck, as names often do, and so a new universe is born.
Some of these new mashups include wonderful titles such as Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I have to admit they are wonderful titles! I should have got myself into these fun forays of the supernatural but instead was sidetracked by Gothic angst.
Actually at the moment I am doing nothing of the sort I am on the last leg of the MG novel I started and though the story has gone well I am worried about voice. In an adult book you may waver slightly but in a chapter book for children the slightest echo of an adult voice means failure. I recently read an extract about a young boy bothering his sister. In it he thinks excellent to himself. Now that might have been what he was feeling but it certainly wasn’t what he was thinking. The moment I read it, I felt the author had slipped out of the head of her character. This is a very easy thing to do from something as simple as trying to describe a dog. So while the book is going to be finished soon I am very conscious of it being a first draft of many. I will go over it until it glows then send it to Tom who will point out all the things I need to fix in it. It can be difficult knowing you are sending your work to someone to find the flaws but better him than the agent. I am taking the advice of many experienced authors—if at first you don’t succeed—write another book!
The Adjustment Bureau is another Hollywood adaption from the work of the great Philip K. Dick.This effort stars the usually charming Matt Damon and somewhat charming Emily Blunt. This is a love story with science fiction elements and because of that relies upon a credible connection between the two main characters. Unfortunately in this offering neither of the leads revealed any such thing. Mr. Damon gave a performance that would make Keanu Reeves proud and Ms. Blunt had a script that mistook childish for playful and inconsistent for artistic.
The plot attempts to show an undeniable love that challenges even the heavens. This requires the actors to portray something more than a lukewarm response on screen. Mr. Damon can be sexy, there are three Bourne Identities to prove that. Ms. Blunt has revealled in the Devil Wears Prada that she can be both elegant and amusing. Neither were in evidence in this offering. The lack of chemistry between the leads, a script that could have used a bit more doctoring and lackluster directing brought down what could have been an exciting romantic adventure. This movie has done well at the box office and therefore the failure was more in satisfaction than monetary. Is better than most but not as good as it should have been.
7/10 Wasted Opportunity