Vanishing on 7th Street (2010) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

The first hour of ‘Vanishing on 7th Street’ is so mesmerizing and full of atmospheric intensity it seems impossible that the filmmakers can keep it up and alas I regret to report they can not. The final twenty-five minutes are so underwhelming and underwritten that it nearly destroys what up to that point has been a truly creepy experience. Director Brad Anderson (The Machinist) seems to be paying homage (or ripping off) Polanski, Stephen King and about the entire oeuvre of John Carpenter. Not too mention the German expressionist films of the 1920’s-30’s.

Set in the already apocalyptic looking city of Detroit, four people waken to find that every last soul has vanished. Leaving behind clothes and all possession. As the sun begins to turn to perpetual nightfall the survivors realize that the shadows of darkness are coming for them. Hayden Christensen give his best performance since he flashed potential in ‘Shattered Glass’ some time back. His character Luke is an arrogant News reporter obsessed with the idea of escaping the city in the hope of getting to his ex-wife in Chicago. Most of the running-time takes place in a bar that seems to have the last working generator in existence. Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo, and Jacob Latimore round out the ethically diverse cast each representing a targeted demographic (ala Carpenter).

Director Anderson does more for the anemic script by Anothny Jaswinski, bringing a visual grace and dreadful tone to the material, than it does for him. The ending is so mind-boggling incomplete it borders on being a cop-out. It feels like this is a great first draft that could have used a polish or at least some restructuring. Obvious references to to the lost colony of Roanoke are intended to be metaphorical but come off as heavy-handed. A film about the Roanoke would be far better use of all this talent in front of and behind the camera.

Director: Brad Anderson
Stars: Hayden Christensen, John Leguizamo, Thandie Newton

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