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11 March 2011

Vanishing on 7th Street

directed by Brad Anderson

First of all, I want to give lots of credit to screenwriter Andy Jaswinski and director Brad Anderson for attempting the daunting task of making a modern horror film sans the gore and graphic pap that permeate its contemporaries. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I also want to make sure that I give Vanishing credit for sincerely attempting to make an updated but still classic horror film, much the same way Rian Johnson created a faithful and fresh 1940s film noir with Brick. Vanishing on 7th Street can boast a great throwback idea (I could almost hear and see Vincent Price welcoming slash forewarning my fellow filmgoers about chilling journey upon which we were all about to embark), a motley crew of strangers holed up in a bar (read: isolated location) in retreat of a horrific something (read: vampires in From Dusk til Dawn, zombies in Night of the Living Dead, zombies again in Shaun of the Dead, a thing in The Thing). Sadly, Anderson’s film falls short of becoming a truly wonderful addition to that genre, instead trying so desperately to mimic the style that inspired him that he forgot to make it mean something. The script suffers in the details as well, especially in the John Leguizamo and Thandie Newton arena, where the two hardly have time and space to make their characters real. Hayden Christensen is one of those actors that I just do not like, in anything, and Vanishing finds nothing new in his pained faced, pseudo city accent routine. Those familiar with Anderson’s other films, particularly The Machinist (for which Christian Bale began a weight loss plan from Hell), will find another example of his predilection to opt for a particular style of cinematography that I am not a fan of, though strangely enough, it was Xavi Gimenez to blame in the case of The Machinist (and Transsiberian), and Uta Briesewitz this time around, which leads me to believe that Anderson has very specific ideas that he wants his cinematographers to bring to life. Another thing- and this is a trivial qualm- that bothered me is that the film is supposed to be set in Detroit, and perhaps it is because I call the Motor City home, but I found the local references to be a little heavy handed. But then again, I’m sure Big Apple natives are used to seeing Times Square and various streets and buildings referenced all the time. All things considered, Vanishing on 7th Street wasn’t a total loss of an afternoon, and in all honestly I don’t think I expected a classic, but I did expect a little more.

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