Vanishing on 7th Street
Directed by Brad Anderson
Starring Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo, Jacob Latimore
The performances in “Vanishing on 7th Street” are prone to melodrama, but histrionics aside, director Brad Anderson (“The Machinist”) has created quite an eerie — and quirky — little horror movie.
“Vanishing” centers on four people — a television reporter (Hayden Christensen), a physical therapist (Thandie Newton), a movie projectionist (John Leguizamo) and an orphaned teenager (Jacob Latimore) — who have survived a worldwide supernatural disaster. The entity behind the cataclysm has no bodily form. It’s just a ubiquitous darkness that emits whispers and sighs (a bit cheesy, yes). When in attack mode, it manifests as black fingers that crawl toward victims and, upon contact, causes them to vanish. The only protection in this forsaken world is light.
The catastrophe is epic but the story is intimate, taking place mostly in a corner bar that, thanks to a hardy back-up generator, remains well-lit. As the survivors huddle, getting into the nitty-gritty details of their next move, the darkness waits at the door, advancing at every flicker of light.
The premise eventually starts to wear thin, and the bursts of melodrama are irksome, but you have to hand it to Anderson for sticking to a quiet simplicity — kind of how M. Night Shyamalan used to do it back when his movies were still good.
It’s hard to shake the creepy vision of a city littered with piles of crumpled clothing, which is all that remains when the bodies vanish. Too bad the clumsy dialogue undermines Anderson’s careful atmosphere.