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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Forsaken (2001)

Sean: "Why didn't we kill the f***er when we had a chance?"
Nick: "Because you can only kill the forsaken on hallowed ground."
Sean: "What the hell's a 'forsaken'? What do you mean hallowed ground? What do you mean? Like a church?"

- Kerr Smith, Brendan Fehr

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: September 24, 2001

Stars: Kerr Smith, Brendan Fehr, Izabella Miko
Other Stars: Phina Oruche, Simon Rex, Carrie Snodgress, Johnathon Schaech
Director: J.S. Cardone

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence/gore, language and sexuality
Run Time: 01h:30m:28s
Release Date: September 25, 2001
UPC: 043396064539
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ CB+B C+

DVD Review

I imagine that I am more than slightly beyond the target demographic for J.S. Cardone's 2001 trendy vampire flick The Forsaken. Perhaps that is the reason some of the impact was a little lost on me. While this is a visually strong film, built with the rapid-fire editing born of the MTV generation sensibility, it falls woefully short on content. I also imagine that the teen and early twenty-something crowd that Cardone apparently built this for will gobble it up and enjoy it, all the while having little or no knowledge of Kathryn Bigelow's vastly superior 1987 vamp flick Near Dark. John Carpenter's Vampires was one of the last significant vampire genre flicks to successfully present a fun, frightening experience, and unfortunately The Forsaken never reaches that level.

The trouble begins when horror film trailer editor Sean (Kerr Smith) has to drive a restored Mercede-Benz convertible across country to deliver it to its owner in Miami. During a stop at a remote gas station in the Arizona desert, Sean reluctantly picks up mysterious, quirky hitch-hiker Nick (Brendan Fehr). Later, after eating at a diner, the two travellers witness a disoriented young girl wandering the streets. Without warning, Nick grabs the girl, and forces all of them into a motel room. It is obvious he seems to know that something is amiss with the girl, and of course, he does. Nick, it turns out, is a vampire hunter, and he realized instantly that the girl, Megan (Izabella Miko from Coyote Ugly) has been bitten.

As with any genre flick, the "explanation" scene is where the screenwriter gets to put his/her own meaty spin on the traditional mythos. With The Forsaken, a couple of clever new twists are put on the vampire legend. Nick offers up a new take on the origin of vampires, dispelling the Vlad The Impaler legend as myth. A vampire's bite infects the victim with a "telegenetic virus", which will eventually turn that person into a ravenous blood-sucker. However, a pharmaceutical "cocktail" can slow the process of "turning", but that doesn't diminish the telepathic link between vampire and victim. Likewise, the vamps can track a victim telepathically. Nick decides to use Megan as bait to lure vampire leader Kit (Johnathon Schaech).

All of these slightly new takes on the vampire legend are fun, and Cardone's script does manage to take a couple of unusual turns here and there. Overall, though, the story plays out with the emotional depth of an extended music video. This is a very visual film, and it seems that many of the plot holes are hastily patched with flashy editing and loud music. The vampire clan, led by Kit, a leaner, meaner David Boreanz-clone, are sexy and extremely violent, and oddly use guns more often than their fangs, which provide the opportunity for more visual theatrics and violence by Cardone.

Smith (Final Destination) and Fehr both have the youthful Warner Brother's WB network in their veins, having appeared on Dawson's Creek (Smith) and Roswell (Fehr). Both actors are decent here, with Fehr utilizing the fun vampire hunter role to generate a bit more character depth, especially when compared to Smith's rather one-dimensional Sean. Unfortunately Miko's Megan is hardly used for anything other than eye candy, despite her prominence on the DVD artwork. Perhaps her numerous nude scenes were considered more than enough for the intended male-dominated viewers.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: Columbia Tri-Star has issued The Forsaken in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, as well a 1.33:1 full screen version on the disc's flip side. The print is damn near pristine, with no visual flaws or defects present, which isn't too surprising when you consider this release comes only months after the theatrical run. Accurate, natural flesh tones prevail, and the overall color field is fairly dark, along the lines of a horror comic book (or graphic novel, for you purists). Much of this film occurs during night sequences, and it is my pleasure to note that the contrast and black levels are solid as well. Excellent shadow depth and delineation prevent The Forsaken from turning into a muddy mess. There are minimal digital artifacts, and very little in the way of noticeable edge enhancement.

Not a reference disc, but a nice transfer by Columbia Tri-Star on this one.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Forsaken contains two English audio tracks (Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0). The preferred 5.1 mix, while not that significantly different from the 2.0 mix, is marginally the better of the two. As expected, the rear channel cues are more pronounced in Dolby Digital, with an overall improved directional sound field. Ambient sounds and music cues are used fairly extensively to fill out the surround channels, and provide a nice, enveloping mix. Dialogue is always clear and anchored strongly up front.

Generally speaking, I was equally impressed by both English mixes, and while I would have preferred a slightly more robust 5.1 track, I found it to be more than adequate.

A French 2.0 dub is also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bram Stoker's Dracula, John Carpenter's Vampires, Hollow Man, John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars
3 Deleted Scenes
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director/writer J.S. Cardone
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Columbia Tri-Star hasn't overloaded The Forsaken with bonus material, but the inclusion of a refreshing director commentary is a nice plus, in my opinion.

Commentary
Director/writer J.S. Cardone provides a full-length, scene-specific commentary track that is somewhat surprising at times in it's tone. The soft-spoken Cardone discusses how classic films like Badlands and In Cold Blood influenced the integrity of his film, but his comments about film violence come across as genuinely startling. Cardone is a firm believer that filmmakers have a responsibility with regard to making "violence palatable", which seems rather jarring to hear during a relatively violent film like The Forsaken. During a sequence where the vampires attack a group of people, Cardone mentions how the gunplay was "toned down" during editing, citing the Columbine high school shootings as a partial determining factor. A handful of silent gaps appear throughout the commentary, unfortunately.

Deleted Scenes
There are three brief deleted scenes of production footage, which are presented in sometimes grainy 1.78:1 widescreen. As with most deleted scenes, these are not particularly memorable. The three sequences are:
Two Guys Drive
Outside Diner/Weird Guy Home
Megan Confronts Kit

Hard Body Co-Stars (2m:41s)
A quickie featurette on the vehicles of The Forsaken, complete with a jive announcer tossing adjective-filled platitudes recklessly. Cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage do little to make this mercifully short piece enjoyable.

Actor Profile Brendan Fehr(2m:13s)
Even more over-the-top than the Hard Body piece, this also features the same over-caffienated announcer swooning over Fehr's performance. As with the other featurette, cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage don't make this worthwhile in the slightest.

Trailers
In addition to the 1.78:1 widescreen theatrical trailer for The Forsaken, there are four others. Bram Stoker's Dracula, Hollow Man and John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars are presented in widescreen, while John Carpenter's Vampires is regrettably offered in full screen format.

Filmographies
Text filmographies of J.S. Cardone, Brendan Fehr, Kerr Smith and Johnathon Schaech are provided, if you need 'em.

A more than adequate set of 28 chapter stops, as well as subtitles in English, French, Chinese, Korean, Thai complete the supplements.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

The Forsaken is an engaging visual film that suffers from a weak plot that never truly generates any sense of tension or horror. Lots of treats for the eyes, but little in the way of a substantial story line. Director/writer J.S. Cardone has created a vampire film that is custom designed for the latest batch of MTV-weaned viewers, but sadly forsakes the horror fan looking for more depth.

 


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