Vanishing on 7th Street

Vanishing on 7th Street, the new thriller from director Brad Anderson (The Machinist), is far too dumb to take itself this seriously.  The simple “stay in the light” plot lands somewhere in between Darkness Falls (you know, the evil Tooth Fairy movie) and The Mist, but it lacks the intellect and ambition of the latter.  Well, actually the former as well.

The film introduces four people who managed to survive a mysterious blackout that hijacked the bodies of anyone in the dark and left their clothes behind in a pile.  John Leguizamo survives because he works as a movie theater projectionist, operating a machine keeps running for a while after a blackout.  Hayden Christensen was saved by a couple of candles he forgot to blow out before falling asleep with a woman who was not his wife.

They, along with a nurse played by Thandie Newton and one of the worst child actors ever (Jacob Latimore), meet three days later in a bar with the world’s most powerful generator.

Such vague utterances as “everything happens according to chance” or “this could be a universal reset,” clearly meant to be monumental proclamations, never come across as anything more than desperate attempts to add depth to the film’s incomprehensible and paper thin plot.  This isn’t even a plot.  It’s a situation.  An excuse for 90 minutes of shadowy special effects and lights that inexplicably flicker.  It’s nauseating, and they spend far too much time tinkering with the damn generator.

You’re in a bar.  Grab a barstool, a match and some vodka and start a fire.  It doesn’t take a damn Eagle Scout.

Random stipulations are added without warning, such as “only trust the light you hold in your own hand,” which suggests these dark beings can lure you in with devious lights and voices.  Then, it seems, these spirits have the power to blow out candles.  Yes, the very objects that kept Christensen’s character alive just three nights ago.

The acting is horrible, but that’s what you’re signing up for when you watch something starring Thandie Newton and Hayden Christensen.  The dismal script contains not a line of interesting dialogue and would have benefitted from even the slightest bit of comic relief — anything for a break from the exhausting “I miss my mommy” and “I think I just heard my baby crying.”

I reached a point where the only reason I continued watching was to find out what exactly is hiding in these shadows.  I never did.  The entire film feels like a Shyamalan film, just without a shocking twist or rewarding revelation at the end.  There’s a fine line between filling 90 minutes and wasting it.  I mean, The Happening sucked.  But at least Shyamalan had the balls to tell us what we just spent our time and money on.

Plus, it had that hot dog guy.  He was pretty cool.  Certainly cooler than any of the characters in Vanishing.

3/10

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