Sean (Kerr Smith) is driving cross country to his sister's wedding when he picks up Nick (Brendan Fehr), a hitchhiker who happens to be a vampire hunter hunting a group of vampires led by Kit (Johnathon Schaech), one of the Forsaken; a group of French Knights of the First Crusade who made a pact with the fallen angel Abaddon to live forever. There were nine knights: eight were turned into vampires and became known as the Forsaken; the ninth was a sacrifice to Abaddon to seal the pact. Of the eight, four are dead, one is in Europe, one in Africa, and two in the United States (including the one Nick is tracking, Kit). Nick was bitten and "infected" by a vampire but, thanks to an antiviral drug cocktail, the vampire "virus" is kept at bay. Each of the Forsaken carry a unique strain of vampirism and killing the Forsaken kills the entire bloodline; killing all the vampires descended from it, and stopping anyone just bitten from turning, which is why Nick is hunting this particular Forsaken. He believes him to be the one that his bloodline is descended from and that if he kills him, he will be cured before he turns (as the drug cocktail eventually will lose effect). At first Sean is less than willing to indulge his new acquaintance, but then they find Megan (Izabella Miko), a girl Sean finds he is attracted to, bitten and left for dead by the vampires. Nick also proves he is telling the truth by killing a vampire, Teddy (Alexis Thorpe), by exposure to sunlight.
When Sean is bitten by Megan, their only hope is to kill the Forsaken responsible before they turn. Forsaken can only be slain on hallowed ground, so the three head for a Spanish mission 60 miles away – chased by the vampires and their day driver Penn (Simon Rex). After a battle on the road, Penn is killed and the car is running out of gas as its tank was shot so they are unable to reach the mission. They stop at a gas station where an old woman, Ina (Carrie Snodgress), lets them in after seeing Megan. She shows them a newspaper connecting Megan to a bloodbath in Arizona; when Megan wakes up and is coherent enough to talk, she explains she was a victim of the vampires' bloodbath (led by Kit) and after Kit bit her he left Teddy to kill her, which she did not do for some reason. Kit and Cym (Phina Oruche) then catch up to them and lay siege to the gas station.
Sean discovers a graveyard outside and Ina explains that it is an old Spanish graveyard that was never dug up, making the house hallowed ground and thus a suitable place to kill Kit. In the following battle, Sean blows up Cym's head with Ina's shotgun but both he and Nick are injured and Kit forces him to be his new day driver then goes after Ina and Megan. As Kit is about to kill them Sean drives his car through the gas station wall and pins Kit to the wall, hoping to hold him there until the sun rises. Kit pushes the car back when it runs out of gas due to the hole in the tank but Sean then shoots him, knocking him into a beam of sunlight and shoots him again when he manages to escape the light. As Kit starts to combust, Sean, Nick, Megan and Ina flee the gas station; Kit's explosive death ignites the gas. It seems Sean and Megan are finally cured of vampirism, however Nick is not cured as it turns out that the vampire who bit him is descended from the other Forsaken in the United States. Nick takes to the road to try to find and kill the other Forsaken, leaving a letter of thanks for Sean. Three months later, Sean catches up to him driving Kit's car and insists on helping, having discovered that the Forsaken is probably in Denver. The two set off for Denver.Kerr Smith as Sean
Brendan Fehr as Nick
Izabella Miko as Megan
Johnathon Schaech as Kit
Phina Oruche as Cym
Simon Rex as Pen
Carrie Snodgress as Ina Hamm
Alexis Thorpe as Teddy
F. J. Flynn as Hoot
Sara Downing as Julie
The Forsaken received extremely negative reviews from critics, as the film currently holds a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 54 reviews.
Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle said of the film: "Like the recent Dracula 2000, The Forsaken supplies its own twist, and also like that other film it comes as less of a surprise than a bewilderment. I'll refrain from spelling it out, though I'll note that the Crusades have something to do with it and it handily doubles as an AIDS metaphor. Who'da thunk it?" Entertainment Weekly also gave the film a negative review, calling it "startlingly amateurish." Likewise, The New York Times gave a middling review of the film, calling it a "reasonably smart generic hybrid," but that it "trots out its full arsenal of shock tactics far too early in the game and squanders the suspense it has accumulated."
Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide gave the film a mildly positive review, calling it a "hip, revisionist horror picture, which borrows liberally — and cannily — from Near Dark and The Hitcher."
The film opened at #8 at the North American box office making $3,020,159 USD in its opening weekend. The film lost money by 53 percent in box office earnings the following week causing the film to move a notch down to #9, it became a box office bomb as the film had plummeted to the 15th spot.
Contemporary critics of the film have noted a homoerotic subtext between the film's two central male characters. In a 2013 retrospective on the film, the publication Culture Crossfire said of the film: "Twelve years later, there’s nothing about The Forsaken that’s particularly memorable other than the fact that it’s an in-denial coming out tale that just happens to have vampires."