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August 16, 2009

The Vanishing

by Franz Patrick


Vanishing, The (1988)
★★★ / ★★★★

Based on a novel by Tim Krabbé (called “The Golden Egg”), director George Sluizer tells the story of a man’s (Gene Bervoets) obsession of finding what really happened to his girlfriend (Johanna ter Steege) when she was kidnapped three years ago. I thought the first part of this film was nothing short of excellent. There was a certain menace in its tone which began when the couple’s car ran out of gas in the middle of a tunnel and cars were not able to see them until the cars got very close to their vehicle. Scenes like that made me believe that something bad was going to happen so I couldn’t help but put a guard up. Surprisingly enough, the truly horrific things happened whenever I wasn’t expecting them so I was often curious where the story was going to go. Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu was very convincing as the kidnapper and (creepy) family man. There was something not right about his relationship with his wife and daughters but what I liked was that the movie wasn’t quite so obvious about it. It was the specific glances and silences between the characters that gave the chills to my spine. Sluizer made an interesting decision after the abduction happened; we got to see the kidnapper’s methods on how he planned to commit the crimes down to his thoughts and outlook on life when he was sixteen years old. It’s easy to tell that this is not a typical psychological thriller movie because it doesn’t succumb to the violence and graphic blood and guts in order to pull of scares. It’s more crafty and intelligent than that because it’s the unsaid and unseen elements that convinced me that it had a lasting power after the credits stopped rolling. Questions such as “What would I have done if that happened to me?” popped into my head so I was really involved in it. Having said all that, I don’t think this will appeal much to most younger viewers because it thrives on subtelty. If one is looking for overt killings where the film shows heads being decapitated, this will surely not impress. But if one is looking for movies that aren’t particularly violent but still chilling to the bone, this is the one to see.

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