Too ambiguous for its own good, Vanishing on 7th Street is an intriguing movie featuring a suspenseful atmosphere and one hell of a premise. And that premise is: if you stay in the light, you will survive. If you’re in the dark, you’ll simply vanish. I can already feel all the Hollywood studio execs getting a boner upon hearing such a concept. Their next thought was to get relatively famous and dependable actors who were also not asking for a big paycheck. Enter Hayden Christensen, John Leguizamo, and Thandie Newton. Don’t get me wrong, all of them gave convincing performances. It’s just I saw what you did there.
I wanted to get all of that out of the way before we delve deeper into this strange movie. It’s just so damn effective at generating this mysterious atmosphere that it’s amazing. You don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and you don’t know why all of this happening. What you do know is that it’s bad. Or at least this is what our instincts are telling us. This leads us to the second layer of the movie. Something that Vanishing on 7th Street hints at during the opening scene. We see Paul, played by John Leguizamo, reading about Roanoke Colony, a mystery that remains to be solved after so many years of research.
I’m not going to go any further than that to not spoil anything. And I’m not going to also go into the religious aspects of the movie although there are plenty of them. Finally, we also have one of the most primal feelings humans can have, fear of the dark. Fear of the dark is actually a fear of the unknown. And we automatically assume that the unknown is out to get us. Well, after this bit of metaphysical detour, let’s get back to the regular stuff. We won’t have to wait long for the weird stuff to start happening as after just five minutes Paul sees that everyone in his theater is simply missing. The people are missing but their clothes remain intensifying the mystery. A true what the fuck moment.
In that sense, we can actually call Vanishing on 7th Street a post-apocalyptic movie. It makes good use of the sets we saw so many times in other zombie, outbreak, or nuclear holocaust movies. As I already mentioned, the atmosphere is there as well as competent direction. And I can tell you right now that several scenes were quite scary. The cinematography was excellent and you can bet your sweet ass the lighting was great as well. I mean, they had to get that one right considering it’s the main point of the movie. I’m not the greatest Hayden Christensen fan but he was the right choice for the lead role in this movie. I hope we’ll get to see him more in this mystery/horror genre.
A large chunk of the movie takes place in the iconic American bar. And that’s a great place for a story like this. I immediately thought of a couple of great movies with the same setting like Albino Alligator and Feast. However, the movie we’re talking about today is much more similar to M. Night Shyamalan’ The Happening. Actually, you can combine these two movies and get The Happening and Vanishing on 7th Street and the end result would probably be, well, let’s not get into that shall we? Ultimately, what this movie is missing is a quirky touch of artistic genius.
Something we so often see in French movies. Those fucking French can get away with anything and I love them for it. However, if we leaned toward that side, we would probably lose the atmosphere and conciseness of Brad Anderson’s matter-of-factness direction. Luckily, we don’t have to do any of those things. Considering its short running time, good production values, and immersive atmosphere, I still think that Vanishing on 7th Street is a movie worth watching. What do you think? Tell me in the comments below.
Director: Brad Anderson
Writer: Anthony Jaswinski
Cast: Hayden Christensen, John Leguizamo, Thandie Newton, Jacob Latimore, Taylor Groothuis
Fun Facts: All the main characters have biblical names.