Vanishing on 7th Street (2010)
(15) Running Time: 90 minutes
Directed by Brad Anderson
Reviewed by Matt Wavish: Official HCF critic
Brad Anderson directed one of my favourite horrors of the noughties, Session 9. He then went on to direct the equally brilliant The Machinist, then Transiberian which he then followed up with a pretty impressive episode of the Masters of Horror TV series and also some damn fine episodes of Fringe. With his return to movies I was very excited indeed, but then, I began to wonder who his latest movie, Vanishing on 7th Street is taking so long to get released. Upon watching the film, I found out why.
The actual idea of the film was not necessarily original; however, in Anderson’s hands I expected this to be highly impressive. Proving he can masterfully craft a dark and claustrophobic atmosphere, my excitement levels for this film were very high after watching the trailer. The story revolves around a very small bunch of people, including Luke (Christensen), Paul (Leguizamo) and Rosemary (Newton). They live in Detroit, and one night as night falls the city experiences a power cut and as the days go on, the Sun begins to disappear leaving the city in darkness. In the darkness apparent monsters lurk and the almost the entire population has been killed off or strangely disappeared. It is up to the survivors to figure out just what the hell is going on, and how do they survive. The premise is great, and the initial set up is great with some wonderful imagery of darkened building, creepy corridors and abandoned streets, however sadly both the acting abilities and the dire script cannot carry to film and the whole things fall very flat very quick.
Now see I love atmosphere in horror, I love apocalyptic ideas and I love lots and lots of darkness, and there were moments here where I thought Anderson was gonna pull it off. Most memorably were the way the shadows looked like they were forming creatures, and the use of mainly flashlights added a real creepy edge, so what went wrong? It is hard to say, but I quickly lost interest and came close to nodding off a number of times. Shame really as I really do respect Anderson as a director, and the cast, especially Leguizamo and the gorgeous Thandie Newton, should have been a dream. I have always enjoyed John Leguizamo in films, ever since he first appeared as a right nutter in the film Whispers in the Dark, but here it felt like the entire cast just couldn’t be bothered. The films pace plods along so slowly, and it seemed that all conversations had the longest ever pauses between responses, it almost felt like there was no one actually in charge directing, and the cast were practising their lines ready for the real thing. It felt like Anderson was either out of his depth, or he just gave up part way through because if ever you needed a film to help you sleep, this is it.
A damn shame I say, but this won’t put me off Anderson as a director, everyone is allowed a mistake now and again. Granted this was a huge mess, but the ideas were clearly there. Let’s hope all involved can make up for their sins in their next projects, but Vanishing on 7th Street should indeed, vanish!