Monday, September 13, 2010

Vanishing on 7th Street

Vanishing on 7th Street shows as part of the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday September 13th at 2:00pm at AMC 2.

It is kind of appropriate that I am writing this review in near total darkness with the exception of my computer screen. Appropriate since in Vanishing on 7th Street, the latest film from Session 9 and The Machinist director Brad Anderson, the only light you can trust is the one that you directly control.

In what appears to be a mass vanishing in the style of the rapture (or possibly worse), 4 Chicago residents (but really filmed in Detroit) try to make sense of why everyone disappeared when the lights turned off. It seems to be that the darkness is literally taking people away and leaving behind only their clothing. The days are getting shorter and shorter and no one seems to know when or if the sun will even rise again. In what seems like a likely scenario, 2 of the 4 people remaining behind have different theories as to what might have caused the black out. Paul (John Leguizamo) is a projectionist who believes there is a scientific explanation for the occurrence despite the math not adding up. Rosemary (Thandie Newton), who just lost her infant son, believes in a more biblical explanation. Meanwhile, Luke (Hayden Christensen) is a news reporter who believes that being proactive and looking out simply for what comes in front of them is the best way to react. The fourth survivor is a young child, played by Jacob Latimore, who's mother owns the generator powered bar they all hole up in while trying to unsuccessfully devise any sort of plan. Essentially the film is a zombie movie, only you can't see the zombies. The film even goes as far as to make the point that once the darkness takes you, you in turn become a part of the darkness.

Brad Anderson is a very competent filmmaker and the cast is more than up to the task. At times Anderson, however, seems to be restaging set pieces from Session 9 almost verbatim and anyone who has seen that film might not get as much mileage out of this one. The script courtesy of Anthony Jaswinski unfortunately hits some sour notes with moments that seem woefully out of place even in a story as ambiguous as this one. Still, it is a pretty engaging and genuinely creepy film. The production values are actually pretty good considering the microbudget it seems to have been shot on. It is much better viewed on a popcorn entertainment level than any sort of philosophical level, but if you are looking for a fast paced easily scary flick, you could do far worse.

Rating (out of 4 stars): **1/2

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