Vanishing on 7th Street (review)

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The lights go out all over a city — maybe all over the world — but it gets worse: everyone has disappeared. Well, not everyone: a tiny handful of survivors — including Hayden Christensen (Takers), John Leguizamo (Repo Men), and Thandie Newton (2012) — are left to be baffled by what has happened, and left to fend off the same terribly mysterious fate for themselves, if they can. How can it be that the clothing of the disappeared has been left behind in neat crumples, as if something had reached inside the victims’ clothes and plucked them out in an instant? (Yes, it’s shades of the rapture, from fantastical Christian mythology.) Can it be that the shadows of the ever-lengthening nights are moving, and have swallowed up the people whole? (Yes, it’s shades, heh, of Doctor Who’s deadly Vashta Nerada.) The ambiguity of it all is at least as frustrating as it is intriguing, but director Brad Anderson, working from a script by Anthony Jaswinski, whips it into something gorgeously terrifying, creating a sense of menace out of shadow and darkness — and even, in more than a few instances, out of light shining from somewhere we wouldn’t expect it to be — the likes of which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on film before. Like Anderson’s The Machinist and Session 9, this is most effective as an exercise in style over plausibility. But what style it is. (also available on demand in the U.S. from Amazon Video on Demand, iTunes, and cable providers)

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