May 02, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Forsaken is so late 20th century. Way back in ’97 and ’98, all a horror movie needed was to borrow a few actors from the WB to guarantee a big opening weekend. In the new millennium, audiences demand a bit more than the third male leads from ”Dawson’s Creek” (Kerr Smith), ”Roswell” (Brendan Fehr), and ”Jack & Jill” (Simon Rex).

Yet that’s all this startlingly amateurish vampire tale has to offer in the way of star power — or anything else. Smith, an actor whose emotional range runs the gamut from petulant to snippy, pouts wanly as an aspiring film editor who stumbles across a gang of bloodsuckers while driving cross country. (Like the undead in ”Near Dark” and ”From Dusk Till Dawn,” these sunlight phobic creatures inexplicably hang out in the blindingly bright Southwest.) Fehr displays a modicum of slacker magnetism as the vampire hunter who hitches a ride with Smith, while Rex merely conjures the spirit of ”The Dukes of Hazzard” as the good ol’ boy who transports the brood in his car’s trunk during daylight hours.

Written and directed by J.S. Cardone — who possibly uses initials to shield his true identity — ”The Forsaken” shoots for a stylized haphazardness. While it’s rarely scary, the film is often gory, but the impact of the violence is blunted by the underlit even for vampires visuals and Weed Eater editing. More shocking is the script’s casual misogyny (”Bitch,” Fehr mutters before smacking a lady vamp in the face with a shovel) and gratuitous nudity (before the opening credits, a topless babe scrubs her blood soaked breasts).

There is one truly horrifying, ”don’t try this at home kids” moment: A cop who pulls Rex over for speeding gets blown away by a vampire with a shotgun and then has his body set ablaze with gasoline. Somebody call Joe Lieberman — this is the ”Jackass” of slasher flicks.

type
Movie
Genre
mpaa
R
runtime
90 minutes
director
J.S. Cardone
Cast
Brendan Fehr,
Kerr Smith,
A.J. Buckley,
Izabella Miko,
Phina Oruche,
Matt Reid,
Simon Rex,
Johnathon Schaech
Studio
Screen Gems Inc.
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