Starring Hayden Christensen, John Leguizamo and Thandie Newton. Directed by Brad Anderson. 85 minutes
Originally, I planned to see this film during TIFF. But it was playing at such an awkward time that I’d have to go alone. Although I seriously considered it, I didn’t end up seeing it. Which was a good call, because I don’t think I could have made it. It’s actually a pretty creepy film. At least temporarily.
Vanishing on 7th Street might better be named Vanishing All Over the World (except that’s a terrible title), because that’s pretty much what happens. In one second, darkness consumes all and everyone disappears, leaving their belongings behind, their clothing flattened where their body had been. Except for those who had a light of their own (i.e. those lighting a cigarette or something else along those lines). But it’s not just a spooky way of trimming down the world’s population and allowing the human species to repopulate; the darkness is still out there to consume, unless you can hide from it (i.e. keep that lighter lit).
The best way to analyze this film is to compare its (potential) scariness with its use of logic (or illogic in this case). Clearly, it’s a film that plays off of the fear of darkness, a fear so many of us have. But it’s not so simple. In this film, darkness has life, or rather intent to harm. It’s not just “What’s lurking in the dark out to get me?!” but rather “The dark is out to get me!” And it creeps and it crawls until it can reach you. Then you vanish in echoes of your screams. Scary, right?
But why is this all happening? Where does everyone go? What happens when everyone is gone? No one knows. Which is actually the biggest shortcoming of the film. It’s a terrifying concept built on a common fear, but it has no underlying story. It’s just a matter of keeping out of the darkness. And although this could have also worked off of our fear of the unknown, that’s stretching it too far. If you’re sitting through this (like I did) waiting for it all to make sense, just give up from the start. You enjoy it more. B
EXTRAS: Alternate endings and making-of featurette.