2011 Running time: 98 Certificate: 15 Rating: 3

Synopsis

When his family is slaughtered, young Martin (Gossip Girl's Connor Paolo) is taken under the wing of a veteran vampire hunter (Nick Damici). Seeking a new life, they journey through the locked-down towns of America's post-apocalyptic heartland, taking down any undead that cross their path when they're not dodging vengeful Christian fundamentalists. Director Jim Mickle's tersely brutal horror is a stylish exercise in cranking up the maximum terror from the tightest budget. Think Zombieland without the laughs.

Director

  • Jim Mickle

Cast

  • Connor Paolo

  • Nick Damici

  • Kelly McGillis

  • Danielle Harris

Review

It's a well-walked trail, one that's been taken in Zombieland, The Book of Eli and The Road. And it seems no end is in sight on the post-apocalyptic highway.

Director Jim Mickle is the latest film-maker to trudge off, passing the hulks of rusting cars and the threat of fanged attack, towards some vaguely promised land with this low-budget but highly-impressive thriller.

Co-writer Nick Damici plays Mister, a taciturn vampire hunter who takes teen Martin (Paolo) under his wing after his family and - most horribly - baby sister are offed by a ghoul dribbling bile.

Teaching the youngster the vampire-killing tricks of the trade, the two of them keep to the back roads in Mister's wheezing convertible, passing strung-up corpses and charred vamps littering the roadside.

While the undead are despatched with chilling viciousness by Mister, he feels more charitable to the warm-blooded and soon Kelly McGillis' nurse and Danielle Harris's pregnant teen have joined the rag-tag party making their way to "New Eden".

Playing more like The Road than gag-studded outings such as Zombieland, this is an impressively lean and tight tale that benefits from sparse dialogue - here action speaks louder than words.

There's no truck with the Christian right - a vicious band of fundamentalists called The Brotherhood, whose party trick is lowering slavering vampires from helicopters into uninfected safe areas, are after Mister for executing one of their own, the rapist son of their leader Jebedia (Cerveris).

It may try to cram too much incident into the narrative and loses its way from time to time, but this is a superior horror. It looks satisfyingly bleak and packs some real shocks.