Where Is Peter Graves When You Need Him? Brad Anderson's THE VANISHING ON 7TH STREET
Outre' cinema's Brad Anderson almost hit's the mark yet again, but ends up literally grasping at shadows in his new could-have-been-great The Vanishing On 7'th Street.Mr. Anderson's The Vanishing On 7th Street opens with a metropolitan area being hit by a major power outage. Hayden Christensen plays yuppie Luke (tee hee) who leaves his inner city high rise apartment complex in the morning, off to work, and slowly notices that there are no people in the street, and that in fact, he saw no one on his way out. The puzzled look on his face is wiped clean, when he is slapped with the truth that something is very very wrong. The fact that it takes a literal 747 jet to come crashing down behind him gives the viewer a clue as to how the characters in this film are going to, um, "think".
Things go from mysterious to bad, as the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer. Things go from bad to really bad when it becomes clear that lurking in the dark of night is something etheral and sinister, spectral beings who whisper malevolantly, and strike when there is no source of light to keep them at bay. Luke makes his way to a corner bar, to find young James (Jamis Latimore), a kid waiting for his mother to return from the inky blackness that hangs now in perpetuity outside. Eventually, in true survivor horror fashion, projectionist Paul (John Leguizamo, whose appearance should have been warning enough), and the films
second (and only on-screen) desperate mother character, Rosemary (Thandie Newton)
show up at the pub-slash-final outpost and before you can say "Rod Serling's Tie" we
now have what could develop into a neat little Twilight Zone-ish nugget of mind-bending genre melding goodness. I guess that's the twist. It never does.
Eventually, the Pavlovian crew decide that the fading generator has forced their hand, and armed with flashlights, make their way into the murk of the eternal eclipse , in an attempt to make it out of the city, someway somehow. The shadow beings creep on their heels, and we get a lot of fading batteries and sound design in lieu of scares. Add annoying characters that would bleed lukewarm water if they were cut, and you have before you this films greatest failure: it's plain old borrrrrring. If director Anderson and writer Anthony Jaswinsky were trying to use ambiguity to create a cosmic sense of unfathomable dread, it didn't work. The film didn't come off as mysterious, or with a metaphoric sense of being trapped in darkness , so much as flat out unfinished. A hint as to what the hell was actually going on was indeed warranted in this film, if by virtue of the fact that the charcaters themselves weren't really the basis of the film. So the whole thing in the end kind of hangs on a lot of nothing.
The Vanishing On 7th Street is a noble attempt, but I'll break out my VHS of the ABC-Movie Of The Week classic Where Have All The People Gone? starring the legendary and recently-deceased (RIP) Peter Graves and my dvd of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Kairo aka Pulse. That's a proper fix of apocolyptic existstentialist horror right there!
Vanishing on 7th Street
- Brad Anderson
- Anthony Jaswinski
- Hayden Christensen
- John Leguizamo
- Thandie Newton
- Jacob Latimore