The Forsaken

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The vampires in “The Forsaken” can’t fly and they don’t have fangs. Instead, they drive a beat-up car and smush their faces against the window as menacingly as possible under the circumstances.

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how scary the film is — i.e., not at all. Director/writer J.S. Cardone uses fast editing and crunchy heavy-metal music to trick us into thinking we’re watching something intense, when really we’re seeing a movie that seems to be making itself up as it goes along, inventing new vampire lore at will and ending in an utterly unsuspenseful climax.

While traveling cross-country, Sean (Kerr Smith) picks up a hitchhiker named Nick (Brendan Fehr), a mysterious, pessimistic fellow with no direction. They encounter a freaked-out girl (Izabella Miko) whom Nick seems to know how to help.

Come to find out, the girl was recently bitten by a vampire and will completely turn into one in a few days. Nick had the same thing happen to him and thus recognized the symptoms; he’s been postponing the inevitable through a cocktail of drugs that can stave off the vampire virus for a while. If he can find and kill the vampire who bit him, the virus will go away. He suspects he and the girl were bitten by the same vampire — no explanation is given for that conclusion — so killing that blood-sucker will cure them both. Oh, and Sean, too, who accidentally got bitten by the girl during one of her conniptions.

But apparently, you can only successfully kill these vampires on “hallowed ground,” and even then only by decapitation or sunlight. So they have to lure the main vampire (Johnathon Schaech) to an old Spanish mission in Texas. And so it goes.

This is an unpleasant movie of excesses. It’s not enough for the girl to be put in a bathtub to cool her fever; she has to be stripped naked, too, and the camera has to linger on her breasts as much as possible. It’s not enough for vampires to burn up in the sun; they have to literally explode. It’s not enough for a police officer to be blasted with a shotgun; the blow has to send him flying 15 feet to land on his squad car. And then he has to be set on fire.

Yet for all its abundant blood, “The Forsaken” is strangely unenergetic. It’s as if the actors realize how bad their dialogue is and refuse to commit too strongly to it. Not that I blame them. If I were stuck in this pedestrian “horror” film, I’d be lethargic, too.

D (; R, abundant harsh profanity, abundant bloody.)

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