Vanishing on 7th Street (2010)
Director: Brad Anderson
The world is hit by a blackout and darkness spreads about the planet and erases society (finally). But a small group of folks manage to stay intact via generating light which keeps the dark off their asses. Will they survive the reboot? Arrow sings: "Do you like the dark! Do you like the way it moves! Do you come alive when neon kills the sunshine!"
Brad Anderson is an underrated talent; a director that has proven himself with gems like SESSION 9, THE MACHINIST and beyond and I was so pumped to see him back to chills and thrills via his new offspring VANISHING ON 7TH STREET. And although I initially came out of the theater slightly underwhelmed, the more I digested the film afterward, the more it scored points.
VANISHING ON 7TH STREET was an apocalyptic tale with a potent launching pad; what if the dark (which is frightening in itself) came alive and hunted us down to take us out of the world? And for the most part the flick had me by the hacky-sack in its execution of the said premise. I was bowled over by the dread filled shots of deserted locales and empty streets with only people's clothes on the ground acting as the remains of what used to be. That made for some striking imagery and Anderson's talent for generating an oppressive mood served those sequences masterfully. Brrr. The same went for the horror joo-joo at play. The randomly shrieking shadows and the sea of blackness stalking the survivors gave me the heebies while the “runaway from the dark” or “make the light work before its too late” ploys worked me like a Spanish hooker suckling knob for rent money (as she should).
At the core though; this was a poignant character piece with an existential streak first. Our heroes eventually banded together and mulled over the happenings (God?), yearned for their loved ones and eventually evaluated their own individual worth. And although much like fighting The Borg, resisting the dark seemed futile, they still did and man was I rooting for them to make it. After the screening I was hit with an existential tidal wave. I mean our individual existence is very important to us, it means something, but within the grand scheme of things what is our value? Not much, if nothing. Man this is depressing me... a drink or continue review...hmm...continue review, the drink will wait. Anderson wisely assembled a strong cast to act as the players in his despair charged game. Hayden Christensen proved once again that with the right director on his side, he can rock it out of the park. Here, he took a somewhat unlikable role and made him endearing by playing up his layers. He was my anchor to the film, the man is talented, step off! :) On her end, the lovely Thandie Newton was uneven in places but got into the groove of things as we ticked forward. As for John Leguizamo...damn... he probably gave one of the best showcases of his career. Then again, I think I say that about every film he's in, he always seems to top himself. Love that guy! Finally we had a young teen in the house played by Jacob Latimore. And no he wasn't precocious, or too annoying... he felt genuine, which is always a plus.
On the flip-side, although I esteemed the film’s ambiguous nature, it was maybe a little too vague for its own good. With no concrete "WHY" to hold on to, I almost felt like there was no hope as to this scenario, hence no stakes. Maybe that was the point. The lack of explanation also resulted in the scare bits eventually hitting a redundant note. The dark is coming, make the light work, the dark is coming, run bitch run...rinse and repeat. And what is it me or were the CGI shadows, too CGI looking at times? Would take me out of the situation now and again. Lastly, the film's ending didn’t do it for me...like AT ALL! It felt forced and contrived to have the final frames be what they were, hence the flick left me on a sour and bummed note for the wrong reasons.
So you gonna fade away with this one? Get the Bourbon if ya do... its a sad ride...
Light blood, that's it. The film's game was tension not Ketchup.
T & A
The shadows were naked... where's my bottle of Baby Oil?
VANISHING ON 7TH STREET had a creepy initial premise, a strong cast (Christensen & Leguizamo powned me), touching emotional bits, a frightening nemesis (hard to top the dark) and a fist full of spooky and suspenseful fear set pieces. The ending rubbed me the wrong way and maybe if the film had more meat behind its WHY, I wouldn't have felt the redundancy of the chain of events and would have gotten into all of it more, but, again, I think that was the point. There is no why, there is no purpose, there is no explanation, life's a bitch and then you die. Time for that drink now...cheers fellow mortals!
The flick was shot in Detroit, Michigan, USA and cost about $10,000,000 to make.