The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Vanishing On 7th Street | The Movie Waffler


New Release Review - Vanishing On 7th Street

Directed by: Brad Anderson
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguziamo

When most of the population disappear during a blackout, a handful of survivors take refuge in a downtown bar.

Three of the worst actors working today are Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, and John Leguziamo. Somebody thought it would be a good idea to put all three together in one movie. They were wrong.
Brad Anderson is one of modern cinema's "nearly men". His low budget debut "Session 9" was an atmospheric thriller that petered out to an unsatisfying climax. He followed it up with "The Machinist", an atmospheric thriller that petered out to an unsatisfying climax. A couple of years ago he gave us "TransSiberian", an atmospheric thriller that petered out to an unsatisfying climax. With his latest the petering begins about five minutes in. This is an uninspired, unoriginal B-Movie. It's this years "The Happening". Boy does Leguziamo need a new agent.
We've seen this "where is everyone?" scenario played out hundreds of times, from "The Last Man On Earth" to countless "Twilight Zone" type TV shows. Now I for one am a huge fan of this scenario, it's very hard not to make it somewhat atmospheric. Even "I Am Legend" was watchable for forty minutes or so. The main problem here is that Anderson never creates a sense of how things were before the incident. It's set in Detroit, a city that very few viewers would be familiar with so we don't get the sensation of "Wow, look at Times Square, there's nobody there" that would have been created by using say New York or Los Angeles.
What he adds into the mix is a villain. It's a villain as preposterous as the evil plants in "The Happening", it's darkness itself. If anyone steps into a shadow they are instantly erased from existence. Now it might be a preposterous scenario but still one that should generate suspense in the right hands. There's a great "X-Files" episode with a similar premise so if it can be done well on TV why can't Anderson pull it off?
Another movie I was reminded of was the great fifties B-Movie "Target Earth" in which a similar bunch of strangers hole up in a bar during an apocalyptic event.
Like "Knowing" and "I Am Legend" this movie ends with a horrible quasi-religious coda which left me wanting to puke. Anderson was a film-maker I previously watched with interest. That interest is officially over.