Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Hayden Christensen, John Leguizamo, Thandie Newton, Jacob Latimore
Directed by Brad Anderson
Picture if you will waking up one morning and the entire world has gone away. The only thing left behind is clothing. Eyeglasses. Jewelry. All of a sudden it seems as if you’re the last person on Earth. What could cause such an occurrence? Sickness? No, there would be bodies. The rapture? No, then at the very least demons and quite possibly the devil himself would be walking the streets all fire and brimstone-like. Thankfully in Brad Anderson’s new film, Vanishing on 7th Street, we never get a clear answer, but we do know one thing: Whatever is out there … in the dark … it’s one hundred percent deadly.
Vanishing on 7th Street begins one evening in a truly bustling Detroit. Like any big city the streets, malls, and hospitals are teeming with people. But then it happens. The lights flicker and eventually dim. Everything goes dead, and everyone disappears. Except of course for a few “lucky” folks who happened to have been in the presence of a non-electrical external light source at the time. A candle. A battery operated flashlight. Hell, even a lighter would do the job. Any form of natural life will suffice. But the question is … how long can you keep such things going? Sooner or later darkness will fall, and when that happens, your time is officially up. And the days are growing shorter and shorter.
In all honesty, the flick doesn’t have much of a storyline to follow, and to tell you any more about it would riddle this review with spoilers. There’s only one set of rules to follow and be aware of — stay in the light and stay alive.
The leads – Christensen as a not always so nice guy TV reporter, Newton as a physical therapist trying to find her missing 9-month-old child, and Leguizamo as a flirtatious movie theatre employee – all do fine jobs portraying average citizens dealing with a post-apocalyptic (or whatever it is) world, and the bonds they form are believable. But the real star of the show in my eyes is newcomer Jacob Latimore, who plays James, the 12-year-old boy guarding Sonny’s, the bar his mother bartended at, which is where our castaways wind up together. He is really the heart and soul of the piece and the character audiences are likely to root for the most.
Brad Anderson has long been a talent to watch in the genre since he exploded onto the scene with his impressive horror feature debut, Session 9. With Vanishing on 7th Street Anderson turns in his scariest experience since that initial horror outing as a filmmaker. The usage of light, shadows, and sound will do a lot to keep your imagination cooking, and when he amps up the suspense and intensity, you’ll find yourself white-knuckled and sinking into your seat. You want frightening? This flick brings on the chills!
The only real problem with the movie is that it doesn’t always play by its own golden rule. Sometimes characters appear to be in areas easily dark enough to be taken; yet, they’re okay. This can be very distracting because we’ve been well versed in what these people need to do to survive. It breaks the tension and leaves you wondering to yourself, “Really?” Thankfully there are only a few instances of this happening, but a little more attention to detail would have gone a long way here. One area with plenty of attention, though, is the soundtrack by Lucas Vidal, which is peppered with jazz/blues standards and perfectly complements the rest of the film.
Equal parts The Fog, The Mist, and Kairo (the original Japanese version of Pulse), Brad Anderson’s Vanishing on 7th Street does a great job of kicking off 2011’s fresh crop of horror features. You’ll never look at a shadow quite the same again, and you may want to invest in a nightlight. Not to be a pussy or anything. You know … just in case.
4 out of 5
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