22 June 2011

Movies: The Vanishing on 7th Street

The Vanishing on 7th Street (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1452628/

Thriller / mystery / horror flick.
The film starts in a movie theater. Suddenly the lights go out. When they come back on, everybody is gone except for the projectionist (John Leguizamo).  By gone I mean that their clothes are in piles wherever they happened to be, but there's no bodies inside the clothes piles. As the film progresses we meet up with a TV news reporter (Hayden Christensen) and a physical therapist (Thandie Newton), and a 13yr old kid who have also not disappeared.  What is going on?

The film starts out seemingly with a strong mystery premise. Unfortunately it quickly spirals into a giant waste of time.

I should've listened to my "Internal Movie Prejudgement Engine" on this one.  First off, Hayden Christensen is in it, which to me is an automatic disqualification for watching. But I was lured back with cast members John Leguizamo and Thandie Newton, plus Brad Anderson directing. Anderson directed The Machinist, a film I enjoyed, as well as episodes of Fringe, so I figured it had to have potential. I was wrong.

The characters are shallow at best, inconsistent in motivation and emotion. The rules of the world established for the film's events are applied unevenly and inconsistently through the middle and end of the film. The plot deteriorates after the first half hour. The film becomes an exercise in waiting for it to finish.
Dialog - not so great either. Especially when Leguizamo's character tries to string together a bunch of science-y terms and concepts as an explanation and they really don't make any sense unless you don't know what they mean to begin with.  A half-hearted supernatural theory is put forward only to be ignored for the rest of the film. That's sort of the problem - things said and done don't follow through, they just come out and disappear and have no bearing on anything.
And cripes - if a CD Jukebox is playing and the power is flickering off and on the music doesn't slow down and speed back up like it would with 45s on old record players. I'm flabbergasted they did that. Someone needs to be slapped.

A lot of times I can look past such things if the film is entertaining enough, but this film doesn't even deliver enough entertainment.

It is a shame, too. Technically the film is produced well. And the initial premise - power goes out citywide and stays out, darkness happens, people disappear almost instantaneously and all their clothes are left intact in piles, the amount of sunlight that gets through during the day is diminishing. It's mysterious. It triggers the 'fear of the dark' impulses.  It's a good starting premise, but its a shame that the rest of the movie happens to waste it away.  I even liked that there never was an explanation as to why these things are happening. That kind of mystery is fine with me, sometimes we just don't know. But dang. The middle stuff. ugh.

I guess it feels worse for me because I didn't expect to like the film. But then I got interested in the premise at the outset and my expectations started to rise, only to deflate into a doughy glob of disappointment. Yeah - a bread allegory. This movie didn't make bread.

Watch if you want. Maybe you'll like it? I won't recommend it. There's better stuff to see.

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