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Overall Rating
2.42

Awesome: 2.78%
Worth A Look: 19.44%
Average: 22.22%
Pretty Bad27.78%
Total Crap27.78%

3 reviews, 18 user ratings


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Forsaken, The
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by Jack Sommersby

"Toothless Vampire Tale"
1 stars

Starts off with some promise yet relegates inventiveness to the back-burner.

Writer/director J.S. Cardone's The Forsaken is an energetic vampire flick that unfortunately fails to deliver the creepy-crawly goods. Cardone's previous outing was 1998's Outside Ozona, and the primary reason for its failure was Cardone's stunted film sense for what would and would not play -- like the casting of City Slickers' David Paymer as a Bible-touting serial killer which elicited way too much in the way of unintentional laughs. Still, Cardone displayed an obvious passion for filmmaking. Mind you, a film that takes itself seriously on a level the audience most certainly does not is just asking for trouble (not to mention, ridicule), yet Outside Ozona was a failed but spirited little endeavor -- not really satisfying but consistently interesting in its own right. While far from a savvy technician, Cardone displayed more-than-occasional panache in his staging of scenes rather than in the execution of them -- you could respect the means even if the ends arrived at were clunky.

Taking place at night mostly on a sparsely traveled interstate, the film had a nice creepy aura that worked on your senses in some pleasurably unnerving ways; the suggestion of foreboding violence was palpable and far more effective than the violent acts themselves. And, excepting his work with Paymer and the once-promising Penelope Ann Miller, Cardone proved himself an actor's director: Jackie Brown alum Robert Forster, Meat Loaf and Taj Majal contributed first-rate, measured work. Whatever his next film, I hoped Cardone's glimmers of promise would deepen and develop, with the result being an organically sound film. Unfortunately for him (and the audience), The Forsaken just ain't it.

Initially, it doesn't seem all that pressing a matter that it's highly derivative of three classic horror pics -- Robert Harmon's The Hitcher, Joel Schumacher's The Lost Boys, and, especially, John Carpenter's Vampires, which had already put a semi-classic cap on its subgenre -- but what does seem completely relevant is that this time around Cardone doesn't seem to have put a lot of thought into his own material. Marketed as an edge-of-your-seat fright-fest, The Forsaken comes off as surprisingly tepid, like a tired, second-hand retread that was brought out of the closet and dusted off simply because its existence was perceived as being somewhat timely, prone to garner a little notice by teens and horror buffs who weren't getting much in the way of good films of this ilk as of late. As sorry as I am to be centering my main complaints at Cardone, The Forsaken soon reveals itself to be an all-out ripoff of Carpenter's Vampires, which is evident in just about all of its major plot components.

First off, the settings in the desert and dusty highways of Arizona reflect Vampires' similar New Mexico locales. Second, a fearless vampire hunter in the person of actor Brendan Fehr none too subtly brings James Woods's Jack Crow to mind. Third, a beautiful blonde babe who's been bitten ends up riding along with the heroes; like the gorgeous Sheryl Lee from Vampires, she's able to "see" visions of the vampires's actions. (Also like Lee, she's disrobed throughout; this time, though, it permeates sexism because the character serves no real discernible purpose and utters four entire lines to her credit.) Finally, the vampires have one leader, who, if killed, will break the horrific cycle and end all the mayhem in that particular region.

Even if you haven't seen the underrated Vampires, you're still not likely to derive much pleasure from The Forsaken because Cardone fails to deliver both tension and suspense due to his haphazard pacing and general mishandling of things. Not enough seems at stake in the story, which offers up nothing more novel than a couple of twentysomethings escaping from, trying to keep one step ahead of, and eventually disposing of some unagreeable baddies (who, by the way, are totally blah in their intended frightful intensity). With little in the way of forward momentum and an inconsistent narrative -- is it the vampire hunter or the dork-ish vacationing film editor he hooks up with who's the prevailing set of eyes we're seeing the story's events through? -- all too often it seems to exist in a killjoy state of limbo, where even the most simplest scare tactics fail to work on us on a basic responsive level.

Whether it was the low budget or Cardone's ineptness, I don't know, but every damned piece of action on display is ineffective. With the action sequences confusingly edited, a lot of the time you can't be sure who's shooting at whom in a particular scene, and what damage has in fact been inflicted, like in the final shootout, where not only did I not know that one of the heroes had been shot until I saw him lying on the ground, but I hadn't a hint as to his actual wound(s) until the day-after hospital scene. A couple of high-speed car chases are unremarkable, and, unlike Vampires, the weapons employed to battle the Ultimate Evil are simple hand guns.

Maybe the studio wanted Cardone to churn this project out as quickly as possible for any number of financial reasons and shortened the deadline, which may help to explain a couple of unrealized bits that you just can't see a reasonably attentive (or even mere-adequate) filmmaker fouling up on. In an early scene, the film editor (lamely portrayed by Kerr Smith) is driving down the highway, is flashed by a gorgeous girl in the car beside him, and stares after the car as it's passed by him a good ways; as he continues looking, a haze of heat blurs his focus for a moment coming over a hill, and the car has all of a sudden disappeared. What the hell? he silently muses. From this, we rightfully assume that something of the supernatural is at play here and the girl is otherwordly; yet several scenes later she's disappointingly shown at a campfire with six or seven normal people, who, including herself, are slaughtered by the Transylvanian natives.

While Cardone may have thought it an easy and disposable tidbit to chuck aside, you'd think the character of the film editor who yearns to become a big-name director someday would serve a witty function in getting a few good fiction-vs.-reality/in-film references going. But this goes unrealized, with only an unmemorable line coming from the vampire hunter that the movies have it all wrong when it comes to what will and will not kill a vampire. (Gee, I never heard anything like that before! At least not since Vampires, and nothing of the general sort since 1996's colorful Bad Moon which, incidentally, was written and directed by Eric Red, who wrote the aforementioned The Hitcher). All in all, one can't really aver that The Forsaken is boring and not without a few iotas of merit, but it's awfully slight for what it ultimately and unimpressively is. Plainly put, if you're going to take on been-there-done-that material such as this, at the very least some definitive oomph needs to be injected into the proceedings to help glide over the general familiarity of things. Sadly, J.S. Cardone has most definitely failed at this most-important task. The result: a toothless vampire tale that basically lacks bite.

Just the one scene from the comedy-chiller "Vamp" where Grace Jones seduces and kills a college student in the back of a strip club is better than the entirety of this mediocre misfire.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4745&reviewer=327
originally posted: 07/19/09 01:00:27
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User Comments

10/16/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Not a great movie, but I've seen worse. 3 stars
8/03/09 mr.mike Hot black female vamp makes it a must-see! 4 stars
1/31/05 Darryl Less characterization than some others (like Near Dark), but still a pretty good flick. 4 stars
10/23/04 B. Rasmussen Enjoyed the movie 4 stars
1/13/04 American Slasher Goddess Bad vampire flick, watch Near Dark instead. 2 stars
9/07/03 Zargo Quite atmospheric and fun... I enjoyed it 4 stars
6/28/03 Rick Vickers Not Too Bad 3 stars
1/29/03 scott GREAT 5 stars
10/13/02 Jim I turned it off, and I *NEVER* turn off vampire movies. Nothing but a NEAR DARK wanna-be. 1 stars
4/26/02 ^Elendil^ Blegh. 1 stars
4/01/02 malcolm the hope of seeing the black girl naked was the only reason i kept watching 2 stars
6/15/01 zombie vomit inducing. not because of the gore, but because it sucks so bad 1 stars
5/08/01 whistler watch it with a pinch of salt and its harmless fun! 4 stars
5/01/01 Ulatekk The MTV editing made it unwatchable. Fast edits took away from the suspense. It sucked. 2 stars
5/01/01 Tara I would not recommend this movie. 2 stars
4/30/01 HyacinthGirl Worse than Dracula 2000: and that's saying a lot. 1 stars
4/29/01 Caty I thought this movie was pretty good, for what it is - a B grade horror movie. 4 stars
4/28/01 Jack Lindley Kerr Smith & Brendan Fehr are cool. Lots of dumb dialogue & silly new vampire lore, though 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Apr-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  06-Sep-2001


Directed by
  J.S. Cardone

Written by
  J.S. Cardone

Cast
  Kerr Smith
  Brendan Fehr
  Simon Rex
  Carrie Snodgress
  Johanthon Schaech
  A.J. Buckley



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