“The Vanishing on 7th Street” Movie Review

1/13/2011 Posted by Admin

“The Vanishing on 7th Street”

Movie Review

Written by Anthony Jaswinski, directed by Brad Anderson, rated R, 91 minutes.

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

The new Brad Anderson film, “The Vanishing on 7th Street,” attempts to turn the director’s trademark cerebral horror brand (“Session 9,” “The Machinist”) into a commercially viable product, creating a quick-fix that doesn’t linger long after its credits.

“Vanishing” plunges Detroit into darkness and takes the city’s inhabitants with it. Only a handful of humans remain -- the “lucky” ones who were near lights during the outage, and they can only continue their existence by maintaining lights near them at all times. Four such survivors -- Luke (Hayden Christensen), Rosemary (Thandie Newton, flat), Paul (John Leguizamo, also flat) and 12-year-old James (Jacob Lattimore) -- come together at a tavern powered by a slowly dying generator.

With the days becoming shorter after the outage, the group is faced with a decision: Stay under the comfortable yet waning light provided by the bar’s generator or risk venturing out into uncertainty.

“Vanishing” relies heavily on blue print that was perfected by George Romero in “Night of the Living Dead” and Stephen King with “The Mist.” It plays out like a Xerox of its predecessors, but luckily Anderson is skilled enough to do the form justice. He generates a sense of impending doom -- something too many horror films are missing these days -- with shadows taking form, crawling along the walls of dimly lit alleys and hallways grasping wildly at the remaining humans. It’s not exactly subtle -- very little in the movie is -- but it gets the job done.

There are moments where “The Vanishing on 7th Street” aspires to be more than just popcorn entertainment, with blatant, uneffective references to the Roanoke colony and the idea of dark matter. But it’s Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s idea -- “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being” -- for which the movie owes its entire premise, and yet it is strangely neglected and underdeveloped.

Anderson makes up for the absence of depth with tension, and there’s more than enough to go around. In that regard, “The Vanishing on 7th Street” is a step in the director’s career. However, the thought-provoking films of his past would be a welcome return next time around.

Grade: B-

"The Vanishing on 7th Street" is currently available on demand. It hits theaters Feb. 18. Below is the trailer. What are your thoughts?"

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