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Wooden stakes and crucifixes are so last century. Nowadays, vampires have other worries, such as driving a suckmobile that doesn’t stall at inopportune moments and always having a trustworthy “day driver” (preferably someone who’s been bitten but hasn’t yet “turned” and therefore won’t mind the sun—but a plain old dumbass will work in a pinch). The Forsaken, starring a handful of pretties from the WB, is the latest attempt to update the undead. This one involves Sean (Kerr Smith), a film editor who is trying to make some extra bucks by returning a swanky Mercedes to its owner across the country via lonesome desert roads. Soon, Sean is having weird visions—a babe in an adjacent car flashes him and, even more strangely, disappears—and immediately breaks his boss’s No. 1 rule: No hitchhikers. Nick (Brendan Fehr) bums a ride with Sean and at first hides his status as a not-quite-turned vampire hunter with existential arguments justifying his drifter lifestyle. But when the two encounter a young woman who alternates between screaming bloody hell and falling into catatonia, Nick has to fess up. He knows just what’s wrong with her: Turns out she’s been infected with the vampire virus—which can be controlled with drugs, by the way—and is serving as a telepathic transmitter to the group of car-trouble-plagued ne’er-do-wells who infected her. It doesn’t take long for her to nip Sean, who, although he likes the fuzziness he’s suddenly feeling, appreciates Nick’s worldly wisdom even more and places himself in the vampire hunter’s pharmaceutical care. The solutions to everyone’s problems? Jumper cables, gas cans, and killing the source of the virus on hallowed ground. (Luckily, there’s an ancient graveyard nearby.) The vampire action borders on cannibalistic—there’s more than simple sucking going on here—but the effects are delivered mostly in unexciting, indecipherable flashes (except for when a couple of the afflicted explode in the sun—that’s damn cool). The acting is as flat as can be expected from a group of young teen-soap crossovers, but there’s a nearly touching moment when Sean begins to take stock of what life has thrown at him: “It’s weird. Three days ago, I had a phat job and not a worry in the world—and now I’m going to turn into a vampire.” At that point I, too, reflected on what I was experiencing and had to agree: It doesn’t get much worse than this.

—Tricia Olszewski