VANISHING ON 7TH STREET taps into one of humankind’s most primal anxieties: fear of the dark. An unexplained blackout plunges the city of Detroit into total darkness, and by the time the sun rises, only a few people remain surrounded by heaps of empty clothing, abandoned cars and lengthening shadows. A small handful of strangers that have survived the night (Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo and Jacob Latimore) each find their way to a rundown bar. With daylight beginning to disappear completely and whispering shadows surrounding the survivors, they soon discover that the enemy is the darkness itself.
Say… a mass disappearance that leaves only a handful of confused survivors behind? That is some excellent Rapture-week entertainment.
The defining word for Vanishing on 7th Street is “spooky.” The atmosphere is heavy. The premise is mysterious and creepily executed. The darkness is inky black and the shadows are hungry. Owing much to Kyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse (including a recreated scene or two) and The Twilight Zone, this apocalypse scenario is quietly horrifying and beyond explanation.
As stated in the summary, most of humanity is swallowed up in darkness leaving only scattered clothes and questions behind. Where did everyone go? What’s in the darkness? The opening scenes that establish this post-event world are pure nightmare fuel. The FX aren’t always successful, but the scares are subtle and often unnerving. The film doesn’t lead you with crash zooms and loud stings. Dark shadow figures stand motionless in the background and obscured shapes move in unlit corners. I love a good supernatural horror piece and I enjoyed the creepy Vanishing on 7th Street very much.
Speaking on behalf of our group: We wouldn’t be able to sing this film’s praises enough if it had just known where to go from there. After the fantastic setup, the film loses its way. Momentum is stalled, weakening emotional investment and making some of the film’s downsides harder to forgive. Bad character decisions and setting inconsistencies written in to serve the plot are bound to drive some viewers crazy. Looking for an explanation of any kind? Although lines are loosely drawn to the Lost Colony of Roanoke and those hints are intriguing, no true conclusion is given. A feature to some, an offense to others.
Does it pass the Bedchel test?
StayFrosty: Nope. Only one of the four cast members is a lady, making it pretty much impossible for it to pass.
Would we recommend?
Jenny Dreadful: Not to gorehounds looking for splatter. To fans of supernatural horror… especially Asian horror fans… Absolutely! A good choice for Halloween night, sleepovers or any evening where you’re looking for nothing more than chills and atmosphere. Don’t expect a masterpiece. It’s got problems. But don’t throw it on in the middle of the afternoon while doing chores either. Watch this in the dark and enjoy.
StayFrosty: I would recommend to people who enjoy atmospheric films – it’s a good time, but it’s definitely not perfect. That being said, I would watch it again, so I guess that in itself is a sign that I think it’s worth recommending…
Crowbait: I’m a fan of Anderson’s other films and I think he has a gift for conjuring frights from simple ideas (just the title sequence of Session 9 . . . wow.) His talents are well used in creating the mood and it’s worth experiencing the setting as he crafts it. It’s in the performances that we are let down. Anderson’s previous films had a strong focus on the psychology of the protagonists and there is very little time spent in the minds of Christensen or Leguizamo’s characters and that means we’re missing out on the best that Anderson has offered in his other work. It’s worth seeing but you could do better.