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May 19, 2011

Post-apocalyptic chiller starts with a bang and ends with a fizzle
Movie Rating: 6/10 BD Rating: 6/10

In the opening minutes of throwback-y horror flick Vanishing on 7th Street (eOne), we see a movie-theater projectionist (John Leguizamo) wander out of his booth to discover a blackout that’s caused everyone to suddenly vanish, leaving behind a pile of clothes. We then watch a TV news anchor (Hayden Christensen) wake up to an uninhabited Detroit and a startling plane crash.                                              

This opener provides some truly classy chills, and one might anticipate a return to form for director Brad Anderson, who has yet to top 2001’s Session 9. Alas, after skipping ahead three days and introducing two more characters, the terror dissipates.

Aping the tired formula of survivors holed up in a confined space (see every other post-apocalyptic movie), the quartet find refuge in a deserted bar. Together, they must stay out of the darkness, lest they fall victim to CGI shadow puppets. The sun rarely shines, so inevitable daylight isn’t worth banking on.

From here, Vanishing goes from spooky nail-biter to less impressive character drama. Unlike, say, Night of the Living Dead or a really dope episode of The Twilight Zone, these victims can’t sustain our interest and we’re just sticking around to see who gets sucked out of their socks first.

Anderson fortunately had the good sense to re-team with Session 9 DP Uta Briesewitz, whose John Carpenter-channeling photography is the film’s solely consistent strong suit. The bar locale is also rather haunting, barely running on an emergency generator and constantly playing the Marvelettes' ''Darling Forever” either sped up or slowed down. For better and worse, the film makes no attempt at deciphering what the hell is happening, but we do get the obligatory religious paranoia.  

There are some nice touches here and there, and this Blu-ray does a fine job depicting the encroaching shadows and small sources of light. It’s a stylish horror indie compared to most, and at the very least deserves to be seen on a large high-def screen in complete darkness.

As for extras, we get 30 minutes worth of interviews with Anderson and pint-sized cast member/pop star Jacob Latimore. A few words on the elusive plot by the screenwriter would’ve been swell. Then again, maybe its better off left in the dark.