The Vanishing

A part of this view­ing list: Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion Spine #133: George Sluizer’s The Van­ish­ing.

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The Van­ish­ing is a very 80s movie with a very 80s score. It is a pret­ty good thriller/horror, espe­cial­ly because of its unortho­dox method­ol­o­gy. Much of the film is spent with detailed views of a sociopath’s life; the man who kid­naps the main character’s girl­friend and dri­ves Rex into obses­sive search mode for the next three years. There ensues a game of cat and mouse that con­cludes with dire con­se­quences. The film is engross­ing from a psy­cho­log­i­cal stand­point, main­ly for the fact that the ser­i­al killer is the most sym­pa­thet­ic char­ac­ter and the pro­tag­o­nist is a fair­ly large jack­ass. This jux­ta­po­si­tion also takes the place usu­al­ly occu­pied by sus­pense, some­thing the film large­ly does with­out. I guess one could argue that won­der­ing what hap­pens to the vic­tims is sus­pense­ful, but I hon­est­ly didn’t care so much about how they died as much as I won­dered how Rex would destroy his life next.

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What I found most inter­est­ing about the film were its pro­duc­tion val­ues. The char­ac­ters don’t have make­up crews and per­fect cloth­ing, the cars are sim­i­lar to what any­one would dri­ve. It is almost like a Dogme 95 film in these respects. Most­ly because this was a Euro­pean co-pro­duc­tion and they didn’t have tons of bud­get to blow on mise-en-scene. Instead, the qual­i­ty of the film comes with the cin­e­matog­ra­phy. Noth­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly flashy, but some­times the deci­sion whether to make a rack focus or not has pow­er­ful effects. An exam­ple of this occurs when the killer sends Rex a post­card telling him to show up at a cer­tain café to meet. Rex arrives with his new girl­friend and as they con­ver­sate, the killer sits at a table behind them, very out of focus, but obvi­ous­ly him. Rex and his skirt take off and the cam­era lingers on the killer, but remains out of focus. This is basi­cal­ly the cin­e­mat­ic equiv­a­lent of the unful­filled expec­ta­tions that the nar­ra­tive pro­vides. The Van­ish­ing is a well put-togeth­er film, but not a life-chang­ing expe­ri­ence. I will say that if Hol­ly­wood put as much care into its screen­plays as went into this one, many of its releas­es would improve dra­mat­i­cal­ly.

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