Monday, 8 February 2010

No.5 : The Vanishing



A lot of people will tell you that this Hollywood remake of the Dutch film ‘Spoorloos’ is a lot of old toot but what do they know? At least it starts with a ‘The’!

The film opens with a creepy Jeff Bridges getting ready for some mischief. He tests the potency of his chloroform and practices his ropey ‘get a woman into my car technique’ - can’t beat kittens Jeff! At first we think he’s a bit strange but we soon see that he has a family and a cabin in the hills as well as an academic job.

Elsewhere Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock are having a squabble on their holidays. Kiefer ditches her to go and get petrol and after a teary reconciliation he promises never to leave her again. He soon regrets his hasty vow however when Sandra disappears with his beer money never to be seen again. The flatfoots do their usual bang up job and before we know it three years have passed and Keifer is all unshaven, wearing an unfashionable coats and still looking for his girlfriend - well she does have the car keys.

Kiefer meets up with waitress with a heart Nancy Travis who manages him to get him away from his quest, much to the annoyance of Jeff who was quite enjoying the struggle from afar. With his plaything lost to the waitress Jeff ups his game and reveals his hand to Keifer who is willing to take any chance to find out what happened to his moose key ring.

With Kiefer drugged he better hope that Nancy puts the pieces together to save the day or at least that someone has changed the grim ending from the original film.

Despite its many failings I quite like this film and its study of evil and obsession. Jeff Bridges is genuinely creepy but I was never really convinced of his story that he had to be as evil as possible to justify his daughter’s love. Can’t he just take her to a Miley Cirus concert like every one else? The idea that a respectable family man can be capable of acts of untold evil is a scary one but not one that really convinces - never saw Fred West or Peter Tobin as the philosophical self drugging types.

In the original film there is no happy ending and no redemption and of course this was changed for the American version. And rightly so too - who wants to see the bad guy win and everyone die? Weirdoes that’s who!

It was nice to see a young Sandra Bullock who doesn’t even merit her name on the poster but still offers a lot especially when she’s the one doing the vanishing - if our Sandra is expendable can any one be safe?! Keifer is OK but a bit one note and not too obsessed when trying to be really obsessed. Nancy seems to have only one setting and that’s shouty but as least she saves the day with her bad hair and poor drunk act.

The film has enough good ideas and ‘what would you do?’ situations to keep you interested and the final log cabin showdown is well paced and has enough reversals to keep you guessing. It’s by no means a classic but a pretty solid and scary effort that’s worth a look.

THE Tag Line : The Vanishing Found Acceptable 65%

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