Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Vanishing on 7th Street (DVD Review)

DVD review of horror/thriller Vanishing on 7th Street starring Hayden Christensen and directed by Brad Anderson.

Image: Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Transsiberian)
Cast: Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo, Jacob Latimore, Taylor Groothuis
USA, 2011 (DVD Release)

Reason to see: I've curious about this one since it was announced as a part of the 2010 TIFF Midnight Madness Lineup

Vanishing on 7th Street starts with a really interesting premise: after a blackout in Detroit people have appeared to vanish, and the remaining folks are afraid of the every growing darkness around them. It stars Hayden Christensen in the lead as Luke, who goes out looking for other survivors in the now desolated city streets.

The premise is interesting and I really like the cast which along with Hayden Christensen includes Thandie Newton (RocknRolla), John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge!) and newcomers Jacob Latimore & Taylor Groothuis but I really felt like the characters were given so little to work with - which is completely ironic considering so much depth can come from restriction, but that just doesn't happen here. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of films that explore ideas and relationships through limited contexts, and this is a prime scenario to explore that with a small cast, limited locations, and an elusive happening that's effecting the majority of people around them, but it's not where the film goes. Instead of really turning to the range of possibilities of reactions to the scenario, we primarily spend time with characters who are paranoid or defensive. Instead of banding together away from the dark, they continue to be at odds with each other on almost every levels. I know we need conflict in any story, and paranoia could certainly be a normal reaction to an extraordinary circumstance where people literally disappear, but I found it sad how we kept seeing people fall apart as oppose to connect. We also only get some exploration of the possibility of reactions to what could be happening, which is really too bad because it's another area that would have been really interesting if explored.

The focus of the film really seems to be centred on creating the atmosphere and the horror of the scenario, which I wish had been more haunting and scary. Conceptually the idea itself is really scary, but I didn't find that to be the case when I was watching it and I also found it kind of bizarre that the characters seemed to be quickly in the know of the workings of the oddness, and although it was clear for the audience as well, it felt like something was missing when it was presented as a given.

I really wanted to like Vanishing on 7th Street. I really did. And I don't like to harp on wishing films where something that they aren't, but with this one I really did wish it was scarier or deeper or more menacing or more enlightening. I also hate to say it, but a small irk from a lifetime Star Wars fan, I honestly would have connected more with it if Hayden Christensen's character wasn't named Luke. It's a small thing, I know, but it did throw me out of the film a bit which is all the more sad as he does a pretty good job and I really like seeing him on the screen. Overall, the film does hit a few interesting marks here and there but they were too few and far between for me and only scratched the surface of what could of been a whole realm of interesting possibilities.

DVD Extras:
  • Fangoria Interview between director Brad Anderson & Tony Timpone from Fangoria (23 minutes) interview plus film clips discussing the the story, the character journeys, the draw of the script, inspiration for the film, challenges of the film, the cast, discussing the creative design of the effects of the film, working on a low budget film, shooting on location in Detroit, working on a quick shooting schedule and upcoming projects.
  • Fangoria Interview between actor Jacob Latimore & Tony Timpone from Fangoria (7 minutes) chatting about Jacob's character, the story, working with the cast & crew, working on a film with computer effects, reaction to the completed film and more.
  • Trailer
Vanishing on 7th Street is available on DVD as of May 17, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I wanted to enjoy I more
I don't think I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it to fans of horror dramas that are disaster-centric and don't mind computer effects over practical

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Hayden Christensen in The Vanishing on 7th Street. Courtesy of eOne Films

John Leguizamo in The Vanishing on 7th Street. Courtesy of eOne Films

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