Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Vanishing On 7th Street
Everybody in the world is minding their own beeswax, when suddenly the world is engulfed in darkness and most of the population is devoured by some sort of weird shadow entity. A very, very small group of survivors holes up in a bar and tries to plan a way to escape the city.
Over the past decade or so, Brad Anderson has established himself as a reliable director of quality horror movies and thrillers. Although Vanishing On 7th Street doesn't quite match his best movies (for my money, Session 9 and Transsiberian), it's a brisk, exciting post-apocalyptic thriller with a cool, novel villain.
Maybe a little too brisk. My only major complaint with the film is that at 90 minutes, it could stand to be a good 20 or 30 minutes longer. Post-apocalyptic movies tend to get a lot of their flavor from atmosphere and world-building, really fleshing out the details of the devastation in order to mine all the pathos. Vanishing On 7th Street is more breathless; the world ends in the blink of an eye and its a mad dash for the few survivors to try to stay in the light and not succumb to the darkness. Which, now that I think about it, is kind of a unique take on the genre, and it really emphasizes the fast and heartless nature of the threat. Still, I think a little more screen time showing us a little bit more of the world outside of the bar the heroes are hiding in would have helped sell the premise a little better. Maybe they didn't have the budget for it.
The cast is good (I've discovered that Hayden Christensen is a serviceable actor when he's not working for George Lucas), the screenplay is streamlined for maximum forward momentum, Anderson makes good use of light and shadow (he better, given this premise), but I'd say the real standout element is the villain. It's sort of a whispering, moving shadow with the impression of human figures (its victims, most likely) inside of it, and when it gets you, you vanish, gone in an instant, leaving behind only your clothes. This leads to some awesomely abrupt/shocking ends for some of the major characters, just the way I like it.