If you’ve ever wondered just what is in those shadows? or how afraid of the dark are you? Vanishing on 7th Street answers those questions with abound.
When the lights come back on after an apocalyptic scenario causes a sudden power blackout in Detroit, and around the world, people who’re left with their own light source are shocked to find that everyone else has disappeared, leaving behind their clothes and possessions.
Throwing you straight into the concept, which sees four people from different walks of life banding together (in a generator powered bar) and working out a desperate plan to escape, Vanishing comes with no delay, and reflects just how suddenly something like this could happen; and there’s great world building when characters wake up and walk around hospitals, malls, and tower blocks, all empty and devoid from human life (an early scene where one of the main characters walks into a surgery theatre, some time after the blackout, and finds a man has come out of anaesthetic midway through surgery completely sells the entire movie).
Director Brad Anderson (The Machinist) gives us some excellent light cinematography and really plays about with the world he’s given; the use of artificial lighting (from flashlights and vehicles for example) shines through the black void of the area around the characters to great effect, and really draws you into the world he’s portraying; even the opening title sequence gets in on the act, with a cinema projection flashing cast and crew names onto a black screen.
In a way, the use of darkness is a cheap (well free) but effective method of broadcasting fear into audiences; you see shapes and movement in the night time’s natural light; and the fact it could just be shadows imposed on darkness, or the actual unknown menace destroying the human race, draws on people’s fear of the unknown to great effect.
Apart from one or two speaking roles and extras the cast is minimal and kept to four main stars. Hayden Christensen (Star Wars Episode II & III) is the local news reporter Luke; he’s meant to be curious and looking to discover the truth, yet just looks slack jawed when he’s walking around the clothes filled deserted city (I despise his dumb character); Thandie Newton (2012) gives a more realistic reaction to the disaster as Rosemary (despite her horribly unnatural American accent); going mad from shock and stress, and searching the city for her lost baby despite going back home and seeing an empty crib; Romeo + Juliet’s John Leguizamo (reliable as ever) seems the most level headed of the three as Paul, and becomes responsible for the gun-toting kid James; a character played to an impressive standard (showing both maturity and a simultaneous lack of it, as the streetwise young boy dealing with the crisis and searching for his mum) by Jacob Latimore (in his debut cinema role).
Aside from a few flashbacks and daylight effects, the entire film takes place in the dark, and at night; something which must have placed quite a stress on the cast and crew (filming for long periods of time during unsociable hours), but creates a nice enough concept, and one that’s executed well, despite it not being a very strong film overall. Vanishing is just missing that certain something which could kick it into the regions of must see films.
Still, when you go to bed it’s enough to make you check those dark corners before you turn off the light.
Vanishing on 7th Street’s transfer is just standard DVD quality, but, admittedly, there were problems where the picture was just too dark to tell what was going on sometimes, and it’s difficult to tell if that was intentional or not; still, you do have to squint a bit harder than necessary sometimes to see what’s different from a shadow and just plain darkness.
There were no noticeable mistakes in Vanishing’s audio mix, and everything seems in order; not overly showy, but decent enough.
Not a lot here I’m afraid; a movie trailer and on set interviews with cast and crew are all that Vanishing on 7th Street has to offer; which is disappointing, as I would have liked to have seen something about the cinematography and lighting effects used.
The Bottom Line:
Vanishing has a strong central idea, cinematography, and cast, but really it’s just missing a certain little something, and needed a little kick to propel it into cult viewing and must see territory. Nice enough but there are other, and more complete, options out there.