Just look at how terrible the poster is; an actual poster for a theatrical movie that does the impossible: it looks worse than the X Men First Class character banners. But the sad thing is, the poster is 10 times better than the movie.
Opening quite promisingly, Paul (everyones favourite Columbian, John Leguizamo) is left confused and alone when the full cinema he works in suffers a powercut. When the lights come back on, everyone (in the screen, the foyer, everywhere) has disappeared.
The situation is the same for Rosemary (Thandie Newton), who is currently in hospital. She wakes up to find the place deserted, except for a man who was caught up in the blackout during surgery. The lights go off again, and he disappears.
Character #3 is Luke (Hayden Christensen), who after planning a night of passion (candles and a XXX movie; how romantic…) finds that his girlfriend never came home. He ventures into the street and finds himself on the set of I Am Legend. After coming to the conclusion that the city is virtually devoid of human life, he heads to a local bar. There, he meets James, a young boy with a shotgun. As the sun goes down, the group realise ‘the darkness’ (not the British rock band, who have currently reformed. Although I assume if they played a concert in the area, it would make everyone disperse anyway) is out to get them, and is the reason why everyone has vanished. They must band together, using whatever they can to survive, etc etc.
I’m usually rather forgiving when it comes to a bad film; I will try to find something good about it. Vanishing has absolutely no redeeming qualities. The “actors” blend into the background, making no impact whatsoever. Every every one of them give a performance that would make even Pinocchio envious, and they deliver their lines with robotic monotony.
There isn’t any reason to like these characters, or hope they survive. Rosemary spends all the time whining and crying loudly, James doesn’t really do anything, Paul is in pain constantly and Luke is just a straight up nasty. Within 5 minutes of meeting James (who is sure that his mother will return from the darkness), Luke tells him that his mother is never coming back and he should just get over it. He sees James crying, and tries to re-assure him, but the damage has been done. I’d put it on par with your best friend telling you for the first time that wrestling is fake, but going back on it by saying he’s sure they actually get hurt sometimes. That was not a good day..
Like many horrors nowadays, Anderson uses the lazy option for scares: ramping up the volume of already ear piercing screams and screeches. The darkness made some unusual noises though; the stereotypical voice of a zombie saying “BRAAAAIINNSSS!” springs to mind. But with no explanation what it was or why it was there, there’s no valid reason to feel sorry for those who got caught up in it. The musical soundtrack is constant and overbearing, with literally every scene having a full orchestral piece to accompany it. Maybe a little silence would’ve enhanced the effect of darkness and isolation eh, Anderson?
The director can’t be excused for being an amateur, or just learning the business because this is the man who directed the hugely entertaining and well crafted Transsiberian and the hauntingly beautiful The Machinist. How he managed to fall so far is beyond me.
Lacking any originality, badly acted and not scary in the slightest, Vanishing is one you’ll soon be seeing in the dark depths of a bargain bin.