Being the only female left on Earth with Hayden Christensen and John Leguizamo sounds like the perfect fantasy for any woman; however, in the horror, Vanishing on 7th Street, the fantasy of being one of the few people left alive is more of a nightmare, especially when evil lurks in the darkness that surrounds you. The horror had an interesting concept but soon fell short midway through and by the time it was over, there was nothing worth remembering or going back for.
Vanishing on 7th Street, directed by Brad Anderson, starts off with Paul (Leguizamo), a projectionist at a movie theater in Detroit. The night begins perfectly fine until the power unexpectedly goes out and Paul realizes that everyone inside the theater has disappeared. While investigating the scene and trying to make sense of what has happened, Paul runs into a security officer and witnesses him get taken by something in the darkness before succumbing to the darkness himself.
Following Paul, we are then introduced to Rosemary, a physical therapist at a nearby hospital, hysterical as she makes her way through the dark and empty facility. The woman navigates her way through the place that once was full with patients and doctors only to find that she is the only one left.
After we briefly see Rosemary and how she reacts to the phenomena occurring around the city, the audience is then introduced to Luke, a local news reporter whom has absolutely no idea what has happened. He awakens to an empty apartment and doesn’t realize something is wrong until he steps outside and sees the abandoned cars and clothing scattered around him.
The movie shifts forward three days and shows us what our three characters have been up to since the strange occurrence happened in the city. Luke is searching the dark streets for a working car when he hears music playing in a nearby bar on 7th street (get it?). When he goes inside he eventually meets a young boy, James, whom is just as terrified as he is. Upon their brief and less-than-warm greeting, Rosemary makes her way into the bar, still hysterical as she looks for her missing son.
The baffled individuals try to make sense of what is happening to them and we learn a little bit more about each character and what they were doing at the time of the initial happening. After the group talk for a few minutes, they hear someone’s cries coming from down the street–in the darkness. Luke hesitantly goes to save the person and finds Paul, badly hurt in the middle of the street.
Once all of the main characters are inside of the bar they begin questioning things further and wonder why they were actually led to the bar in the first place. Light is the only thing that keeps them safe and they only have a small source of it. God and fate, as well as the Rapture are brought up a lot as the group argues that what is happening is a reboot of the world.
Luke remains skeptical but frightened while Rosemary and Paul have strong religious beliefs. The film does have several symbolic messages related to God, the Bible and the Rapture. The characters names are biblical, the bar is located on 7th street at the corner of seal–possibly referencing the seventh seal in the Book of Revelations. The rapture is described as God taking many people and the world being plunged into darkness, and in the film the individuals are literally plunged into darkness while several people vanish.
There are several more clever biblical messages, especially toward the end of the film, making the concept interesting and cool. It was a great concept, setting up a perfect and eery story; however, it was poorly executed.
Some of the performances in the film seemed a little off-key, even though I like all three of the main actors in the movie (Christensen, Leguizamo, and Thandie Newton). The atmosphere was unsettling and scary but the director didn’t seem as though he used everything he had to his advantage. The entire film takes place in the bar, which would have been fine, but the characters seem to talk about the same thing over and over without actually doing anything or going anywhere.
I like the way that the film was set up and the unexplained phenomena happening suddenly, but I disagree with the way the story jumped ahead three days. I think that if the director focused on our key characters for a little bit longer, letting us see what they went through on their own, and then introduced them three days later, it would have been better; their stories would have been fleshed out more–especially Paul, who apparently was taken by the darkness.
The movie wasn’t entirely bad; it just wasn’t entirely great either. I enjoyed the religious aspect of the film and I find the Rapture to be an interesting–and terrifying–topic, so, it was fun to see how the director used the idea to make a unique story. However, he could have utilized what he had to execute the story in a much better way. The film is quite similar to the video game, Alan Wake, which uses the same idea of light and darkness, but does so in a much better way. The film should have taken note and used the game as their guide.
Although the movie isn’t completely enticing or fast paced, it does have an interesting concept. I would suggest giving the film a watch, just for the symbolic elements, and come up with your own conclusions on what the film was about.