The Forsaken

Plagiarism after Dark

In 1987, Katherine Bigelow’s Near Dark brought big changes to the languishing vampire genre, presenting a gun-toting outlaw gang that roved around terrorizing the modern American West. The shadow of Near Dark is still cast over horrordom, and The Forsaken is heavily influenced by it. But this surprising little feature has a few tricks of its own. The Forsaken succeeds by keeping things simple, and in the process puts similar recent vampire flicks – such as From Dusk Till Dawn 2 and Vampires – to shame.

Would-be filmmaker Sean (Kerr Smith of Final Destination) is biding his time editing trailers for exploitation house “Canyon Films” (with lots of Troma posters on the walls) while waiting for his break. To get to his sister’s wedding in Miami, he takes a job driving a sporty Mercedes across the country, but meets up with luck that goes from bad to worse. First he loses his wallet, then blows a tire in the desert. And then he picks up a hitch-hiker named Nick (Brendan Fehr, also of  Final Destination), who gets him involved in a whole new world of trouble. See, Nick was bitten by a vampire about a year back, and since then he’s been trying to save himself by tracking the virus back to the Forsaken – one of the original nosferatu – that passed on the infection.

Writer/director J.S. Cardone, like Stephen Norrington (Blade) before him, uses a stylish and action packed vampire flick to launch himself out of the direct-to-video ghetto (like Shadowzone). Like Spielberg’s Duel, Forsaken limits itself to the simple story of trouble on the road, making the most of its cast of little-knowns (Carrie Snodgress, who has a small supporting role, is about the  biggest star) and concentrating on the story. At first, Nick only uses Sean for transportation, keeping the rusty Charger of the small clutch of vamps (and their “day driver”) in sight. But when they come across one of the gang’s victims (Coyote Ugly‘s Polish beauty Izabella Miko, whose pre-credit shower scene should make her a favorite of Draculina magazine blood fetishists for quite a while), he has no choice but to drag Sean into his little private war.

Though it too often tries to impress with shaky camera quick editing, The Forsaken is nonetheless a welcome and refreshing surprise,  is a winner that pays homage to its roots while carving its own mythology.

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