on February 26, 2011
This movie starts with an interesting premise which is immediately engaging. Unfortunately, very little happens over the next hour to draw you in. The plot and character development stall quite quickly, and the film drags. I kept watching nonetheless, expecting a big pay-off at the end, which, sadly, never came. The movie ends abruptly with a range of Christian imagery and all major questions unanswered. Frustrating all around.
This film starts with an eerie and inventive premise. It leaves a more haunting, memorable trail than most movies in the genre. But in between its first and its lasting impressions, it somewhat loses its way in the dark.
Too much goes unexplained. For example, we see John Leguizamo stranded in his darkened movie theater one minute - then we next see him lying battered and bruised in an illuminated bus stop shelter. What happened to get him there? In his commentary, Director Anderson says that there was some scripting that would have explained Leguizamo's trajectory, but a variety of constraints prevented this explanation from becoming part of the film. Actually, Anderson thought this was all to the good though - that some things were best left to the imagination. I'm not so sure about that. It seems Leguizamo's navigation of the engulfing, vanquishing night would have been one of the processes most interesting to watch. Without showing such process, the film too often ends up being just abrupt, choppy, and undeveloped.
It also has too many lapses of logic. The creeping darkness doesn't play fair. It shifts its rules of engagement, overwhelming one person, while allowing another similarly situated person to survive, at least for a while. Well, that could be an additional aspect of the evil of the darkness. It toys randomly with its victims, like a cat may or may not toy with a mouse, sheerly on a whim.
Then I had one of my common technical complaints about this film. The DVD often projected as an indecipherable smudge on my TV screen. So it ran as murky rather than sinisterly dark. There is something about the final lighting/filtering process that many modern filmmakers use that causes their movies to be a chore to watch on home TV's. I wish filmmakers would get back to whatever technology was used from the 1920's through the 1960's that allows their films to play as appropriately shaded rather than just obscure when run on a TV screen.
The Director's commentary doesn't add a lot to a viewer's appreciation of the film. Brad Anderson starts out sounding too much like Ben Stein, making a dreary, nasal drone of his narrative. So unless you have a lot of spare time, you can probably skip the commentary and most of the other extras, except for the interviews.
However the Director's commentary does highlight at least one telling aspect of this film and its making. Anderson talks about how apt it was to settle on Detroit as a location for the action. The City itself is perhaps the most fascinating character in the entire movie. It becomes an icon of our crumbling economy, our crumbling culture. Some of the scenes in the movie call for shots of major urban intersections shown desolate, abandoned, post-apocalyptic. Anderson said that he hardly had to clear Detroit's streets and highways of cars and people for these scenes. They are already so often eerily null. So many buildings are already hollow, echoing shells of once vital industries. These shots in and of themselves served as chilling prognostications of what can in reality befall all our cheery, oblivious bustle.
So this movie is overall worth watching - for its darkling premise, and for its stunning views of Detroit.
on February 27, 2014
What were the shadow people?
Where did the shadow people come from?
What did the shadow people want?
Why were the shadow people taking everyone?
Why did they take Paul just to throw him out under that light?
What the hell is Croatoa?
Where did the shadow people take the others? Are they dead? Moved to another dimension?
How were they able to control the times the sun rises and sets?
Just frustrating and disappointing!
on May 14, 2013
The movie had so much promise only to be undone by irrational behaviour of the characters and plot contrivances impacted by the writer. There are some genuinely creepy moments like the one with Hayden's character at the News Station hallway. If only there were more moments like those and a stronger focus on building up the tension and a better setting than the rundown bar.
on July 30, 2015
Honestly? The concept is neat, but explanation of things really never comes about, so you hear theories through out, old tales, ideas about spirits, but again we don't know how far spread things are, is it just the city? the world? would of loved to have less round and round with characters and more giving us a broad view of the world.
Not a bad watch, but a little bit of a letdown.
on August 31, 2015
Hayden Christensen plays a total jerk who wakes up one day to find that nearly everyone in the world has vanished, and the days grow shorter and the nights increasingly longer. Worse yet, the shadows are alive and are trying kill everyone. On paper, Vanishing on 7th Street sounds like a sure fire win for a horror movie. It plays on the natural fear of the dark many people have, has plenty of mystery that keeps you engaged, and it has a fairly solid cast with the likes of Christensen (who shouldn't be judged by the poor script he had in the Star Wars prequels), Thandie Newton, and John Leguizamo.
Sadly, while the film does have some decent scares and manages to maintain some level of tension. It never fully achieves the potential it sets itself up for. Between hokey CGI shadow effects, hackneyed usage of true historical mysteries with easy explanations that blow the film's supposed explanation out of the water, and truly stupid character decisions the film feels more like a bad Doctor Who episode (and given that show actually had an episode about killer shadows that was AMAZING makes this film look all the more worse). Add onto that, a truly stupid ending with obvious biblical undertones and a shot that rips off the iconic image of The Walking Dead's Rick Grimes riding his horse down an abandoned highway and you have the mediocre strawberry on a truly disappointing cake.
Not to mention, it's way too easy to make "Dark side of the force" jokes throughout the entire film's run time. I strongly recommend watching this movie with your friends and seeing who can come up with the best Dark Side pun.
on September 2, 2015
Vanishing on 7th Street although the vanishings seemed considerably more widespread than that. No creatures or scary things except peculiar shadows and an inky blackness that closed in around the victims, making them disappear and leaving only their neatly arranged clothes. The thing ("it") that was causing the disappearances was able to bore into the victim's minds and discover and emulate things that could lure them out into the darkness to claim their bodies. I thought the movie was pretty good and anxiously looked forward to finding out what "it" was that cause all of this mischief.. Needless to say, the explanation never comes and that's the end. A good story needs a beginning, middle and end. The beginning really captures the viewer, then the tension rises, and rises, and rises. Then the movie ends. Too bad. It could have been very good.
on October 4, 2013
...well, I won't tell you, but if entropy could be made into a movie monster, this would be it.
Well, maybe not quite it. Entropy to me in this sense is the winding down of all things with energy, life, and vitality. Flames dying, plants and animals dying, batteries and electrical equipment running down to inert objects, even the Sun and the stars fading. There is that element in the film. While strangely plants and animals seem unaffected, the darkness not only snuffs out the vast majority of humanity, but drains batteries, causes the power to go out, even eventually snuffs out fire itself. I would say it is the snuffing out of civilization, but the Sun rises later and sets earlier every day, not quite flowing with that particular narrative (except maybe the shorter days help the entropy to end humanity).
Also to me entropy is an inert and inexorable force, like gravity, but not that one that wants to do anything. It is a force, not intent. Here the darkness - whatever it is - is clearly sentient. It wants the end of things, of all beings with thought, but it itself has thought. It tricks. It lies. It intimidates. It lets some people live - for a time - but in the end they too will be gone. Also in the end, it doesn't really matter, for once your light dies, you are gone, snuffing out like a candle.
Kind of hard to understand what the directors and writers quite wanted me to feel on this. At times, a good action thriller, if by action you mean the constant struggle to stay in the light. Very creepy, even scary at times, though no gore to speak of. Good sense of suspense and the use of flashbacks was effective and eerie. The lie-dreams the darkness made people see, didn't quite understand why the darkness would do that, how it would do that, and quite what some of the dreams even meant. Some things were clearly symbolic (the end somewhat heavy handed), but I didn't always know what the symbolism meant. Didn't quite go down the rabbit hole of obtuse imagery and strange abstractions as some indie films can do, as it was still a thriller, but there were things I didn't understand at all.
As you can tell, a lot of questions were left unanswered. Is that a problem? I suppose not. They were there though! It was well made and eerie. Reminded me of some post apocalyptic empty city movies though this was bleaker than any I have seen before. If that is your thing have at it!
on September 16, 2012
The camera shots of detroit are well done and the characters really look and sound like people that are normal and have no idea as to whats going on. The premise is about what happens when the darkness that envelops us when we go to sleep or suffer a power outage, decides to actually envelope us and take us away from our lives and our loved ones and to stay alive we need to stay in the light and will ourselves alive. The problem is that the movie seems to lose its way, and what I mean by that is that it sets the scenario up very well with the city becoming vacant and people start disappearing left and right. Yet when it comes down to the key deciding factors that can help to drive the writers/producers points home they skimp whether its because of time constraints or budget is uncertain. One perfect example of this is one of the first characters we see get
*Spoilers read at your own risk*
taken is named paul, later on in the movie he manages to fight his way back from the darkness due to a light working that didn't work before, yet we do not see paul coming back to the empty city, we just see him lying next to a blinking light and then getting up and running to the conveneintly lit bus stop with an apparent concussion(i'm uncertain if I missed something but still wondering how he got the concussion). Another factor that doesn't make sense is how the entity can drain electricity from any sort of chemical battery and yet when it comes to solar powered lights it can't seem to touch them and yet for a city that is supposedly going green and instituting more solar powered devices the power goes out and we cannot seem to find any other light devices or buildings. The ending itself does nothing to answer the questions because your left still asking what happened, what was the entity, and why did the darkness spare the boy when it nearly killed him several times earlier, and where the bleep did the little girl with the convenient solar flashlight and battery blink shoes that somehow prevented the darkness from taking her come from. Its one of those movies that had a lot of potential but its biggest problem was the story what not explained and the symbolism of the christian/catholic artifacts used in the final scenes was not fleshed out. two scenes could have cleared up the major questions and made this movie enjoyable, 1) a longer scene with paul describing what he saw and felt in the darkness and 2) at the end have the christ statue light up, to show a form of spiritual light. If the director had done these two things the movie would have been more successful, I give it an average rating because I see the direction they were trying to go with but the ecexution made it feel rush and what little plot and symbolism that was there went right over peoples heads. Not to mention the ending was abrupt and made as sequel bait.
Over all this movie has a good strong beginning premise, but somehow lost its way. Its not surprising that it failed miserably due to limited release and the major issues it had.
on October 10, 2015
This is the kind of movie that draws you in fast with a very startling event that you can't look away from, but it doesn't know how to hold on to you. It kept its spooky factor throughout, but it fails in making the characters interesting.