“The Vanishing” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 9
“I want you to know, for me killing is not the worst thing.”
I’m betting that The Vanishing is often recommended because of its psychological nature. It reminds me strongly of Se7en or Silence of the Lambs in some ways – where the antagonist is smarter and more successful than the protagonist, and are if not likable, admirable in their accomplishments of evil.
I gave myself some time to try to digest this movie before diving into this post on it, but I’m not sure I needed to, really.
It’s well-done, but not particularly stylistic. The score is often jarringly bad, or otherwise nondescript. The performances are passable, and sometimes really not very good at all. Even though it’s in Dutch or French language, I can still tell a poor line delivery when I see and hear one.
The thing that makes this movie is the script, which was adapted from a novella (The Golden Egg). The screenplay makes use of film to tell the narrative in a non-linear fashion, and reveals the answer of whodunit? nearly immediately after the film begins. The trick to it all is: it still maintains suspense by not revealing the true fate of “the vanishing” of the unfortunate woman until its conclusion.
The conclusion is also bleak, and unexpected. I’ve read the American remake starring Kiefer Sutherland, Jeff Bridges, and Sanda Bullock turns it around into a traditional happy Hollywood ending, and suffers greatly, as a result.
So in short, it has some really good things going for it as a story and the way it’s told, but cinematically, it’s kind of a dud.
The Vanishing was at the time of this review at #519 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #884 among the best movies of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
The Vanishing vs. Chasing Amy
I’m not that big of a fan of Chasing Amy. It’s one of the lesser “Askew-niverse” films, for sure. The Vanishing will win this first matchup.
The Vanishing vs. The Ring
The Ring is one of few genuinely scary movies since Alien and Exorcist. It does a lot right in just generating dread and unease, and not relying too much on cheap scares. It has many iconic elements that have stood the test of time among the horror genre. It definitely beats The Vanishing.
The Vanishing vs. Idiocracy
On first viewing, I wrote off Idiocracy as a weak follow-up to Office Space, but I’ve seen it again and realize it’s actually a lot better than that. It’s smart in its portrayal of dumb. Really smart. It will take the win over The Vanishing.
The Vanishing vs. Fantastic Mr. Fox
It’s actually my 3rd favorite Wes Anderson film behind Rushmore and Moonrise Kingdom. I’m giving it to the fox.
The Vanishing vs. Predators
Predators was a pretty huge disappointment and seemed filled with incorrect directorial decisions and poor casting choices. The Vanishing wins.
The Vanishing vs. Something Wicked This Way Comes
There are few Disney films as unsettling as Something Wicked This Way Comes. They don’t dare go as far as they did back then to create a horror story for kids. It’s the kind of movie that just doesn’t get made anymore. It wins the matchup.
The Vanishing vs. Machete
Not a particularly big fan of Machete, or much of anything Rodriguez has directed post-Sin City except Planet Terror. The Vanishing wins.
The Vanishing vs. Tron: Legacy
Another sadly disappointing movie. Great soundtrack, though! The Vanishing wins.
The Vanishing vs. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
I guess I’ll give it to The Vanishing for its more compelling story. Wedding is quite good, though. I could really go either way.
The Vanishing is now ranked #629 out of 1383 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Up next is Paris, Texas, Charade, and When Harry Met Sally. Now’s a good time to read about the other films I’ve ranked during the challenge.