Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo, Jacob Latimore
Paul: What, am I…in heaven?
Luke: Better…a bar.
During a blackout, most of the population of Detroit disappears in an instant. Only those close to a light source at the time are spared, but the survivors must stay in the light, or suffer the same fate as all the others.
Affleck, you da bomb in Phantoms, yo!
Yeah, while I was watching this movie, I kept waiting for Ben Affleck’s Sheriff character from Phantoms to show up because this movie borrows heavily from that one.
Both involve a mass disappearance, references to the legendary “Lost Colony” of Roanoke, a group of characters collected in a small building, and some sort of dark presence seemingly trying to absorb them all into a collective. Also, both movies aren’t particularly good.
Aside from having a title that sounds like an episode of The Twilight Zone, the main problem with Vanishing on 7th Street is the lack of character development (despite some fairly good, if overly dramatic, acting). I couldn’t help compare that aspect of the movie to the movie I had watched the day before, Cold Weather. In that movie, we got a whole lot of time to get to know the main characters before the main plot was really set in motion. Thus, even though their situation wasn’t nearly as dire as the characters’ situation in this movie, the tension was greater because I actually cared about those characters. I didn’t even know all the names of the people in this movie until quite a ways in. I’d say Paul (Leguizamo) gets the most development and depth, but Luke (Christensen) and Rosemary (Newton) hardly even register as characters. They’re just there to run around and try to avoid the dark shadows closing in on them.
Oh, and they threw in a kid or two just so the audience would have to say, “oh no! They’re not going to kill off the kid, are they!?” Child endangerment always ramps up the tension.
So, without any real characters to care about, we at least get some sort of interesting explanation as to what the heck is going on, right?
Nope. A fairly good set up is wasted.
Now, I’m not one that always needs things wrapped up in a pretty bow, but if you’re going to have your movie plot driven instead of character driven, it would be nice to have at least some amount of closure. In the end I was just left thinking, “I don’t care about these people, and I don’t know what is happening to them. Why did I watch this?”
There is some creepy imagery here and there and a somewhat ominous mood set at times, if you’re into that sort of thing, but mostly I was just bored. Frustrated too. False dramatics bother me. For instance, they’ve got a ton of independent light sources they’ve been using to stay alive, yet as the bar’s generator is running low on power, they all seem to be saying that if it dies, they die. So for about 5 to 10 minutes of the movie they’re sitting there praying the generator keeps running and the lights stay on. All the while, I’m thinking, “um…turn on a flashlight maybe?”
Of course, they remember the flashlights later, when it’s convenient to the plot, but by then I was already rooting for the shadow demon monster creatures to finish them off. Or for Affleck to save the day…
10 – 3 for booorrrrring characters – 1 for too many frustrating lapses in logic by the characters – .7 because it’s not particularly scary = 5.3