Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Itís a Saturday night at the AMC Fairlane in Dearborn Michigan, about three miles from my house and a place where I have seen many a movie, but I gotta admit that this particular series of events has never happened while I was there.  Paul the projectionist (John Leguizamo) takes a quick break between reels to grab a pop and talk to the pretty theater concessions girl (Jordan Trovillion), she throws the older dude a little game, heís happy, he goes back to the projection room and then the light go out.  These things happen.  What normally doesnít happen is what Paul sees when the backup lights come on.  Paul walks out into the theater lobby and observes that everybody is gone.  Their clothes are all still there, but the people are gone.  The movie is called ĎVanishing on 7th Streetí and the good people of Detroit of missing.  Just so you know that in the Detroit area, the AMC Fairlane and 7th Street are nowhere near each other. 

Soon we will meet our other principles caught up in this terrible situation in Rosemary (Thandie Newton) the pretty, albeit hysterical physical therapist who has lost her infant child, Luke (Hayden Christensen) the Action News 7 field reporter with a very bad attitude whose girlfriend has been sucked up by the darkness and James (Jacob Latimore) the bratty twelve year old whose mother has gone missing.  Itís three days after Ďthe eventí and it looks as if everyone on the planet earth is gone.  It didnít take long for the few people left to figure out to some degree what has happened, that being once you get engulfed in the darkness, you get taken away.  This is why the people we meet are surrounded by light because whatever is doing this thing cannot exist in the presence of light, not even a little light.

Luke walks the streets looking for a car that might start but he is not finding any luck since all electronic and mechanical devices, at least for the most part, have shut down.  This is where he sees the light from the little corner bar and this is where our four survivors will gather to attempt to figure out how to survive this event.  Personally, I wouldíve liked to have known what is going with this event or maybe a slight clue or theory as to what is behind this event, but Iím not getting any of that.

The bar that houses our beleaguered survivors runs on generator power and this generator runs on gasoline and the gasoline is getting low.  Thereís a really nice Jukebox in this bar that plays a lot cool tunes in the background but it didnít dawn on these people until much later that cool jukeboxes playing cools tunes uses up a lot of juice.  I would tell you that this darkness is sinister, but I donít know if it is or if it isnít.  It looks as if this darkness has the ability to shorten our days and lengthen our nights and I do know that the darkness is tricky, that the darkness can get in your head and make you see things and that the darkness will tempt you.  Satan perhaps?  Luke believes the answers are straight down I-94 in Chicago, the generator is almost dry, the one semi-working car could use a jump and the bratty kid thinks he just saw his mother.  It looks like somebody just hit the reset button on the planet earth.

Thereís a lot to like in director Brad Andersonís film ĎVanishing on 7th Streetí as this is a film that looks simply fantastic and also makes great use of its atmosphere.  Being able to effectively manipulate light and darkness in this film is fairly important in a movie centered around avoiding the darkness and staying in the light.  The movie also has a cool soundtrack working for it, though again, it did seem silly to be rocking the jukebox considering the situation, but who can think properly when the world has just collapsed?  Young Jacob Latimore is a mini revelation and probably gives the best, multi-layered performance in this movie with Thandie Newtonís Rosemary largely being shrill, Hayden Christensenís character of Luke being wildly uneven and John Leguizamoís character of Paul mostly lying on his back babbling nonsense.

Unfortunately, at least for me, I wasnít all that intimidated by the darkness.  I can hear the music escalating and I can see the lights flickering and I am right there witnessing the encroaching shadows and the ominous figures cast against the wallÖ But despite the fact director Anderson is doing everything right, Iím not feeling anything remotely close to fear or dread.  Iím not feeling freaked out, creepy or uneasy.  Iím into the movie, no doubt about that, but Iím more curious than anything else.  I guess Iím that idiot that hears that sound coming out of a dark room and then walks into that room to investigate.  Could the darkness really be all that bad?  We heard some screams every now and then and they did take away local Channel 7 anchorwoman Carolyn Clifford which wasnít very cool, but since we were kept in the dark about the darkÖ I wasnít necessarily afraid of the dark despite the fact the rest of characters in this movie were absolutely petrified by it.  Understandably so, of course.  Plus with daylight soon to be eliminated and all the power eradicated, the end is inevitable.   But again, thatís just me.

ĎVanishing on 7th Streetí is an effective, beautifully shot, crisply executed little thriller, but itís just that this was a thriller that didnít give me many thrills.  I was interested, I was engaged, I dug the whole religious apocalyptic aspects in this film including the whole Adam and Eve thing near the end, I just wasnít as creeped out by this film as I imagine I was supposed to be.

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