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The Forsaken (2001): Movie Review

I'm a product of my generation in a sense that as a casual cinephile, I would watch all the mid to late 1990's teen targeted films and see the beauty in each. Especially the genre products. But I caught 2001's vampire tale The Forsaken just last year during an archive film binge marathon of sub-sub genres, so while I hopelessly defend unrewarded cinema, The Forsaken lies somewhere between awful and underground cult creation with a re-watch percentage. Here's the lowdown:

Strapped for cash, Sean (Kerr Smith) an editor for an independent film company takes an odd job driving a swanky car to southern California with a few rules but one that was made firm; no hitchhikers. Of course, along the way he loses his wallet and busts a tire, leaving him  he no choice but to pick up an insistent hitcher named Nick (Brendan Fehr) who has the money he needs to make up for the highly inconvenient mishaps.

What follows is a sloppy trajectory where Nick reveals himself as a "vampire" hunter of The Forsaken, a damned tribe that has been scattered across the earth feeding on the blood of the living. Head vamp Kit (Johnathon Schaech) along with his minion feeders Cym (Phina Oruche), Teddy (Alexis Thorpe) and day ghoul Pen (Simon Rex) cross Sean and Nick's path with a whiff of Nick's hunter status. Also, they pick up a useless young lady who's been bitten and somewhere in the quick jump cuts of her hysterics, gets a piece of Sean and infects him.

In order to defeat the band of Lost Boy(s) & Girl that begin the follow the trio, they must destroy the head vamp to cure the infectious bite from their systems and at the same time, rid the world of a slither of evil. The Forsaken's greatest weapon next to the normal vampiric fare is their telegenetics, the ability to track those who they have bitten. Nick refers to their rampage as an infection and completely turning must be fought off with drug cocktails.

Part metaphor for AIDS, unlikely hero story, political commentary, and highly stylized 90s horror western, The Forsaken seeks refuge in simplicity yet makes a worthy attempt at originality. Its biggest downfall on a personal level is the way in which its female characters are woefully underdeveloped and reduced to a parade of flesh for the senses.

Additionally, the girl Nick and a reluctant Sean "rescue," Megan (Izabella Miko) and her story is forced into the narrative as an easy way to tie in Kit & company's chase to destroy them. His "unfinished business" with Megan is nothing but a fizzle as we are given no meaty back story or even a hint that her character was given any real thought. It appears to be nothing but a random invasion with her making it out alive. Barely. Megan reeks of 1968 Night Of The Living Dead's Barbara with hardly any consideration to muster. Feeder Teddy is killed off far too early, only to prove to Sean that he need be worried about these supernatural creatures.

Cym serves primarily as Kit's feral, sexual plaything who has a few lines, but you get the idea that she was a bit unhinged in her life before she turned and is the proverbial bone thrown to the audience with a little action here and some tough-chick verbage there. Cym is the example of making an audience comfortable with her sole offer of mesmerizing beauty and nothing more.

Ultimately, The Forsaken was content with just being the potential for a good movie. Its strength dependent upon (very good looking) male leads, flashy fast cuts, an amazing American southwest scenery with expansive highways, desert heat, and hot pants. The enigma is that this film for all its flaws is not terrible and actually perfect for a gloomy, Saturday afternoon. It's basically a wish of a story that could've been something deeply epic. I keep bringing up this point because I truly wanted it to be.

Watch at your leisure if you're a vampire film completist, skip if they're your least favorite monsters and can go without even more accidental "sexist" imagery.

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