The Forsaken (2001) Movie Review

I have seen a lot of vampire movies, probably more than my share, to be honest. I have sat through funny vampire movies. Scary vampire movies. Bloody vampire movies. Science fiction vampire movies. Even futuristic vampire movies. Maybe I’ve way too much vampire movies. Some of the movies try to re-invent the vampire mythos; others don’t bother and rely on the traditional legends of the vampire (re: stakes, sunlight, Dracula, etc.). Some are good, others are okay, and some are so-so, while some are just God-awful.

All that being said, The Forsaken is a very poor vampire movie. It tries to re-invent the vampire legend by calling the vampire strain a blood “infection,” and its explanations as to the origin and the existence of “master” vampires (that must be killed in order to kill the strain) are a little ridiculous and weak. The movie concerns Sean (Kerr Smith ), a 20-something movie trailer editor from Los Angeles who agrees to drive a car across country to Florida for his sister’s wedding because he can’t afford to fly.

Along the way, he meets Nick (Brendan Fehr), a hitchhiker who agrees to pay for the gas on the way to Houston, and is much more than he seems. Sean reluctantly agrees because he needs money and he’s lost his wallet. The two meets a girl, Megan (Izabella Miko) on the road who seems dazed and out of her mind; during a struggle later that night, Sean is bitten by Megan, and becomes infected. It turns out Megan is a vampire, although she hasn’t fully turned yet, and the master vampire who bit her, Kit (Jonathan Schaech), is after her to finish the job. Nick has also been looking for Megan because she was the one who bit him — Nick, you see, is also a vampire, although he hasn’t turned yet. Fortunately for Nick, he met other people who were bitten by vampires and has learned the secrets (pills, a lot of pills) to controlling the infection, and he’s been doing so for two years while he hunts Kit.

For a vampire movie, The Forsaken is pretty boring. I say this as a fan of vampire movies. I can usually find something good to like about a vampire movie, even the worst ones, and the only good thing I can find about The Forsaken is that writer/director J.S. Cardone gives us plenty of gratuitous nudity from Megan.

Other than that, Cardone attempts to hide the fact that nothing much really happens in his movie by throwing quick cuts at us — unfortunately, instead of using the quicck cuts to enhance or give his move a kinetic feel, Cardone completely ruins scenes with the technique. For example, in a movie that is slow-paced and where people talk more than they actually do something, Cardone completely undermines the vampire action scenes with his quick editing. As a result, the scenes where we expect to see a vampire massacre or other vampire-related action are all confined to about 200 quick cuts in the space of 20 seconds, making the scenes useless. This is not to say that Cardone is a terrible director. The man obviously has a good eye for visuals, but unfortunately he still hasn’t learned how to use them to good effect just yet.

The acting in The Forsaken is nothing special. Of the two male leads, Fehr, as the vampire hunter, is outrageously young, and even bad facial hair and a dog tag around his neck doesn’t make up for the fact that he looks like a kid and is simply unbelievable as a fearless vampire hunter. Kerr, as Sean, does better, and I wonder if he might not have been better as the vampire hunter, and Fehr as the cross-country driver who unwittingly stumbles onto the vampire mess.

As Megan, Miko literally sleeps through most of the movie, and when she does wake up to talk, she’s utterly boring and lacking in the talent division. I don’t suppose there’s any need to ask why she got the part, is there? As Kit, the head vampire, Schaech acts wacky and evil, but his thick eyebrows do most of the work. Schaech is supposed to have super strength and speed, but comes across as a second-rate loon ala Dennis Hopper’s usual villain character.

The Forsaken throws buckets and buckets of blood at us, but ironically, there’s very little “action” before the actual bloodletting, so the presence of all those blood looks unnecessary. (Actually, the only showcasing of Kit’s super abilities as a vampire is when he punches a man through the chest and rips out his heart. Aside from that, nada.)

There is also one big problem: after the 15th bloody and mauled body is thrown onto the shoulder of a major Texas Interstate road in 2 days, I began to wonder where all the State Troopers and cops were? In fact, one State Trooper is killed and burned on the hood of his car, and yet, no manhunt! And this is taking into account that the action travels down the road for about 30 miles. One would hope that the Texas law enforcement community could look at the trail of bodies leading in one direction and figure out that the killers might be up ahead!

I bring this up not to be picky, but in light of the movie’s heartfelt attempts to explain the vampire legend, and the presence of vampires and their savage killings in the modern world, I just can’t overlook these plot holes. Don’t try to explain everything to me, then ignore the obvious.

As we like to say in Texas, That dog don’t hunt.

J.S. Cardone (director) / J.S. Cardone (screenplay)
CAST: Kerr Smith …. Sean
Brendan Fehr …. Nick
Izabella Miko …. Megan
Johnathon Schaech …. Kit

Buy The Forsaken on DVD