Poor Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow). Some years back her parents and brother were slaughtered by Richard Fenton (Jonathan Schaech) a teacher who had developed a psychotic fixation on her. Richard went to an insane asylum but he broke out and now he’s back in town just in time for Prom Night where he resumes his pursuit of Donna and knocks off some of her friends for good measure. Bringing up the rear is dogged Detective Winn (Idris Elba) desperately trying to nail Fenton as the body count mounts. Sooner or later--and it’s much later unfortunately--Donna will come face to face with Fenton one last time. With characters as one-dimensional and dumb as these there’s not much the cast can do except stand around in their prom outfits waiting to get killed off. As the deranged killer Schaech stares glares and skulks around. Leading lady Snow widens her eyes and worries accordingly throughout while Elba tries to inject a little intensity into the stock role of the cop on the case. Working from a bad screenplay by J.S. Cardone first-time helmer Nelson McCormick displays little enthusiasm--either for the genre or for this particular film. The scare tactics are hackneyed and usually involve characters surprising each other--a gag that gets really old really quickly. When one character mutters “This is getting silly. Enough already ” we couldn’t agree more. And we’d add “boring” to that statement. It should be noted however that there’s an awfully high body count for a film rated PG-13 even if the film isn’t as bloody as one might expect. McCormick and Cardone have re-teamed on the upcoming remake of The Stepfather and if their collaboration here is any indication horror fans may have reason to be afraid--very afraid.
The movie tagline sort of sums it up: "Four guys from the suburbs hit the road...and the road hits back." The four middle-aged friends who like to jump on their motorcylces and go riding around once a week are: Doug (Tim Allen) a dentist embarrassed by his job; Bobby (Martin Lawrence) a henpecked husband who wants to break away from being a plumber; Dudley (William H. Macy) a mild-mannered computer programmer and resident geek; and finally Woody (John Travolta) an entrepreneur with seemingly the most going for him. In actuality Woody is about to hit rock bottom but rather than be honest with his friends he convinces them all to hit the open road with him--to feel the wind in their hair so to speak. And as they go looking for adventure they soon find that they’ve embarked on a journey they will never forget. Uh-huh. Who would have thought these four actors would make a movie together? Casting Wild Hogs looked like the best part about making the movie as the producers probably sat around coming up with different variations (wonder who else they considered--Tom Hanks? Steve Carell?) Comedy veterans Allen and Lawrence have fun riffing on one another doing their shtick here and there while Travolta (the only real biker of the bunch) and Macy easily keep up with the antics. For the most part these guys click but I’m sure everyone did this purely for the money—and the Harleys. Ray Liotta gets to play the menacing villain once again as the leader of a motorcycle gang who has it out for our hapless quartet. Of course this time Liotta plays it for laughs and does a nice job with it. Even Marisa Tomei makes an appearance as a small town denizen who falls for Macy’s Dudley as the boys end up defending the town from Liotta and his thugs Magnificent Seven-style. You can see every plot point coming a mile away plus a few director Walt Becker probably didn’t even know were in there. But honestly from the guy who directed Van Wilder what did you expect? Becker is handy with a camera and totally knows where the film’s bread is buttered focusing all his energy and attention on his four stars. Unfortunately in doing so Wild Hogs mostly misses out on the poignancy of say a City Slickers even though it tries real hard to get us to connect with these middle-aged men trying to recapture youth--or whatever. But listen this isn’t supposed to change the world; Wild Hogs is just pure dumb fun about a group of guys wearing leather and riding hogs. Period.
Sean (Kerr Smith) takes a week off from his job in Los Angeles to attend his sister's wedding in Miami and deliver a car at the same time. But the owner has one rule: No hitchhikers! As this titillating bit of foreshadowing suggests Sean gets a flat tire on a deserted highway loses his wallet and has no choice but to pick up hitchhiker Nick (Brendan Fehr) who offers to cover the cost of gas. What Sean soon finds out is that Nick is actually hunting down the leader of a band of roving vampires and he must kill him in order to avoid becoming a vampire himself. On their trek they find Megan (Izabella Miko) also a victim of the telepathic "vampire virus " and use her as bait to lure the undead to sacred grounds and lop off their heads. A hesitant Sean is forced to play along after Megan bites him. If the story is hard follow don't worry--Sean and Nick rehash the plot each time they sit down to eat.
The performances in this film are passable at best. While Dawson's Creek heartthrob Smith and Roswell's Fehr work as best they can with such a silly script they spend most of the film sweaty grimy and on the run. Johnathon Schaech plays lead vampire Kit who looks creepy enough but never really says much. The same goes for his sidekicks Cym (Phina Oruche) and Teddy (Alexis Thorpe) except they don't even try to be eerie they just walk around pouting seductively in tight short outfits. Miko as the film's waifish bait spends most of the 105 minutes in a half-naked and morphine-induced state. In the rare instances when she is not being carried in someone's arm she is either screaming or spitting up blood. Not much talent needed there but perhaps this is for the best: when she finally does muster a line in the film's final moments you almost wish she hadn't.
Loaded with shots of Sean's vintage Mercedes driving down Arizona highways with sunset backdrops and loud music The Forsaken at times looks and feels like a music video. The special effects which consist mostly of blood and gore are so basic that you can almost see the fake blood capsules spurting out of the actors' mouths. And because the lighting is so stark and the action scenes shot so tightly it is hard to get a sense of who is shooting at whom. In terms of suspense director J.S. Cardone uses every trick in the horror movie handbook resulting in predictable scenarios seen a hundred times before only this time they're worse. This lack of originality coupled with lame scares and virtually no screams is--as one might expect--ultimately this film's downfall. It's too derivative of horror movies of the past (think Vampires and The Hitcher). A shame really. There hasn't been a good teen horror film in a quite some time.