After years of youth-aimed horror movies characterized by jokey, often forced irony, the dark and comparatively serious tone of “The Forsaken” comes as a welcome change of pace. But it’s only in those terms does this vampire thriller offer anything fresh.
The familiar elements start with the casting. In the two lead roles are none other that two stars from the WB network: Kerr Smith, known to “Dawson’s Creek” viewers as Jack, one of the world’s oldest looking “teenagers”; and Brendan Fehr, co-star of the teen alien drama “Roswell.” Smith’s Sean, an editor of (no joke) B-movie trailers, is on a long road trip from Los Angeles to Florida for his sister’s wedding when he picks up Fehr’s Nick, a scruffy wanderer whom he takes for a harmless hitchhiker. If that were actually the case, there wouldn’t be a reason for a movie, so Sean’s simple decision proves to have unforeseen consequences. Nick is hunting down the vampire gang responsible for infecting him with their deadly blood virus. Conversely, the group o’ bloodsuckers led by Kit (Johnathon Schæch) are a hunt of their own–for fresh meat.
Then again, writer-director J.S. Cardone still doesn’t seem to have a reason for making this pointless bloodbath–except to have a shameless excuse to get “Coyote Ugly” co-star Izabella Miko to take off her clothes at the drop of a hat. Miko plays the also-infected Megan, who is seen washing blood from her breasts in the film’s first shot. This opening shower pretty well sums up the entire thrust of the Megan character, whom Sean and Nick eventually help; the only other requirements for the role are screaming, crying, and passing out, without ever speaking a word (that is, not until there are only 15 minutes left to go). Suddenly a dancing bartender seems like such a plum part.
Not that anyone with substantial amounts of dialogue fare all that much better. Smith doesn’t embarrass himself, but he doesn’t have the presence to carry an entire picture; that said, he has more than Fehr, who lacks believability either spouting clunky exposition or brandishing a gun or shovel in full action hero mode. At the very least the overacting Schæch appears to have some sort of fun though his enjoyment is in inverse proportion to any that could be had by the audience.
“The Forsaken”‘s biggest failing, though, is a basic one: as a horror film, it’s not scary nor suspenseful; and as an action picture, it’s not terribly exciting, if at all. As if trying to compensate, Cardone pours on the blood and piles on the explosions, but even that shouldn’t be enough to convince the target audience of easy-to-please teenybopper mallrats that “The Forsaken” isn’t a tired piece of work.