Next up is a small, supernatural thriller called "Vanishing on 7th Street." Director Brad Anderson offers a bleak, post-apocalyptic vision of downtown Detroit. Here the entire city seems to have been abandoned. A movie theater packed with people is suddenly empty. Nothing but their clothes remain. Streets are silent. Cars have crashed into each other with no drivers behind the wheel. But a few stragglers remain, as is so often the case when zombies or some sort of virus wipes out a population. Among them is Thandie Newton, a physical therapist who finds no one left in the hospital where she works -- or so she thinks.
There's also Hayden Christensen as a TV news reporter, Jacob Latimore as a 13-year-old looking for his mother, and John Leguizamo as the projectionist from that movie theater. They all flock to a dive bar which just happens to have an electrical generator. But the forces that devastated everyone else are lurking in the darkness, hovering ever closer, and our survivors can't hold on much longer.
"Vanishing on 7th Street" is moody, atmospheric and tense, and Anderson uses silence skillfully to build suspense and real fear. But at the end you walk out thinking, what's the point? The best films of this kind -- George A. Romero's early zombie movies, or Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" -- provided a stirring allegory or offered insight about humanity. Here, the ending is flat, making this a genre exercise with nothing to say. Still, my thumb is vaguely up, because the mystery held me for a while there.
And my thumb is vaguely down because although there are many things I like about this film. I like the abstractness of the horror. I do like what he does with silence, I’d say the first forty minutes of the film are very strong, but it just seems like he, Brad Anderson, the director, is kind of preparing a game board and he refuses you could say, to play the game. It doesn’t really progress beyond what happens in the first forty minutes. What we get in the rest of the movie are just kind of variations.
Did you find the ending satisfying though because I’m not sure I do. I mean is fear of the dark really it?
I definitely did not find the ending satisfying. I like that the horror remains so vague, that is satisfying to me, but rather the events, what he ends up doing with the characters including the character of the young boy, I don’t find very satisfying or all that interesting at all.
And it touches on some religious issues, the idea of spiritual redemption, but even that feels kind of half-hearted as well.
It’s like a…it’s like watered down Shyamalan or something.
It is Shyamalan-esque, it is Shyamalan-ish, that is indeed true.
You know you mentioned George Romero. There is kind of a Romero vibe, there’s also John Carpenter, but it feels like more of a genre exercise, with these kind of deliberate homages or taking ideas from these directors more than a fully formed film.
It’s still very well made, technically, very well made.