Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Forsaken (USA, 2001)

"Time to die, cowboy."

Cym (Phina Oruche)

Taking its cue from Near Dark (trailer), Katherine Bigelow’s immeasurably superior cult vampire flick from 1987 (flawed only by its idiotic blood-transfer cure) and John Carpenter's stupid but laughably enjoyable, penis-fixated pubescent fantasy Vampires (trailer) of 1998, The Forsaken involves a small group vampires that leaves a trail of blood behind them as they tool around the back roads of the US west and the two young men out to put an end to their ways.
Sean (Kerr Smith, the wooden face in Final Destination [2000 / trailer] and My Bloody Valentine [2009 / trailer]) is an editor of B-film trailers who has taken a week off as a driver-for-hire to deliver a cherry, vintage Mercedes from LA to Florida, where he wants to go to the wedding of his sister. Losing his wallet after getting a flat tire, he ends up picking up the seemingly harmless (if verbose) hitchhiker Nick (Brendan Fehr, a two-expression actor previously seen somewhere in the background of Disturbing Behavior (1998 / trailer]).
To make a long non-story short, Nick is actually out a-hunting vampires and a few predictable scenes later they run into the previously mentioned group of vampires (led by Christina Applegate's ex-husband Johnathon Schaech) and everything leads to a big showdown at a roadside house which is mildly interesting but way too long in the waiting...
Written and directed by J.S. Cardone, the dude who made the entertainingly cheesy triple-bill filler Shadowzone (1990 / trailer) and the rather good neo-noir Black Day Blue Night (1995 / trailer), The Forsaken is a piece of celluloid shit. Were the film a product of the grindhouse generations, it would be a prime example of the lousy, painfully worthless films that helped fill out the screening cycle of the flophouse theatre and did little but help make the occasional "discovery" all the more enjoyable in comparison. A post-grindhouse product, however, The Forsaken deserves less to gather dust on the lowest shelf of the local DVD rental than it does deserve simply to be thrown away.
The Forsaken is obviously aimed for the teenage crowd, which in itself is not necessarily bad, but it is bad when the filmmaker assumes that the intended audience is not only totally undemanding but has little or no expectations other than to see a cute face or two. But with these assumptions in mind, J.S. Cardone did produce this film: a faceless and un-enjoyable turd that fails on almost every level—it is not scary, so it fails as a horror film, and it is far from either exciting or thrilling, so it also fails in the action department. Indeed, the only truly interesting event of the whole film is the opening shower scene in which the actress Izabella Miko (of The House of Usher [2006 / trailer] and The Clash of the Titans [2010 / trailer]), as the bitten Megan, washes the blood from her naked breasts with a look of "What the fuck am I doing here?" on her face. We see her pleasantly petite love pillows again later in the film when Nick is looking for the location of the vampire bite (Cardone lacked the cajones to go as far as Carpenter does in Vampires) but by then the genitalia inertia – excuse me, general inertia – and lethargy of the film has already reduced the viewer into such a state of disinterest that the second short flash of her boobs really doesn’t do much. The babe's function in the film is the exact same as that of Sheryl Lee’s character Katrina in Vampires (that old telepathic link bit), but with less dialogue (as in: no dialogue other than a sporadic scream). Thank god for the occasional use of loud and misplaced heavy metal—were that not there, the viewer would probably sleep through most of the film.
Not that it would matter: the derivative plot is so thin as to be non-existent, and is thus easy to follow. Indeed, the plot is so thin that the film stretches scenes out needlessly—for example, the meeting of Sean and Nick, or when Sean is getting ice, or Megan briefly drives off with the car, etc. etc. Indeed, the big showdown is also senselessly delayed by having the vampires let the outnumbered hunters go the first time they meet for no other reason than
"There’s a time and place for everything."
Well, any time and any place is wasted in a bad way if spent watching The Forsaken. The flick ends in such a way that very much indicates the hope of a new franchise. Fat chance.

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