Are you afraid of the dark? Even if you are, you’re not likely to be scared by this movie
A blackout swallows the city of Detroit, opening Vanishing on 7th Street and consuming the city in a darkness so ravenous that it swallows nearly the entire population. All that’s left behind are a few seemingly random individuals and a lot of questions.
The story centers around four survivors who meet during the blackout when they all seek refuge in a local bar equipped with the only working generator in the city. As night approaches, the survivors quickly realize that darkness is the enemy and that the only way to survive is to keep close to a rapidly diminishing light source.
The film boasts an impressive cast, featuring Thandie Newton, Hayden Christensen and John Leguizamo. But even veteran actors cannot save the dismal script, which hardly develops the players at all and imbues them with lines that are often downright laughable — understandable, given that the film’s villain is darkness.
As a horror movie, the film falls short of even creepy. The forces of evil at work are simply too abstract, leaving much to be desired in terms of visceral horror. Darkness’ most destructive tendency is to make people vanish without pain or explanation — perplexing, but it doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for thrills. The film would seem more at home among The Twilight Zone ouevre. Its half–baked ideas on existence, religion and the supernatural don’t elevate the film above the premise of a 30 minute TV show. The only message that the filmmakers effectively communicate is that darkness is an evil force and that light usually means salvation, which comes as no surprise to the literate crowd.
One may enjoy Vanishing on 7th Street for its unintentional humor alone — the crowd gathered at the screening I attended certainly did. But in searching for any deeper meaning or coherence, viewers can expect to remain in the dark.
Directed by: Brad Anderson
Starring: Hayden Christense, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo
Rated R, 91 min.