Sunday, 4 March 2012

Vanishing on 7th Street, dir. Brad Anderson, wr. Anthony Jaswinski, st. Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo, Jacob Latimore

There is much to enjoy here in Brad Anderson's latest film, a hi-concept supernatural thriller in which darkness itself descends upon Detroit and proceeds to swallow up all human life, leaving only their clothes behind, Rapture-like, in a crumpled heap on the floor. For me, his overwrought horror Session 9 from 2001 and rather limp 2008 thriller Transsiberian are no match for the wonderfully inventive and stylish The Machinist in 2004, Anderson's Kafka-esque mediation on guilt and regret. But in Vanishing Anderson gleefully employs creeping unease rather than straight shocks, allowing shadows, figures and disembodied arms to snake their way out of the darkest corners toward his characters. It's an effective take on a primal fear but the story doesn't wholly deliver in the way we hope it will. Instead of an investable hero, we get Hayden "Mannequin Skywalker" Christensen, who's as charismatic as a sheet of hardboard, and Leguizamo and Newton's characters are equally cut out-n-keep. The CGI's impressively spooky in an X-Files kind of way and it's a nice riff on the 'last group of humans left' apocalyptic shtick we've seen so much of in recent years.