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Vanishing on 7th Street

Year: 2010
Production Co: Herrick Entertainment
Director: Brad Anderson
Writer: Anthony Jaswinski
Cast: Hayden Christensen, John Leguizamo, Thandie Newton, Jacob Latimore

I watched this movie because I have a real soft spot for post-apocalyptic thrillers where there's only one or a couple of people left like I Am Legend, 28 Days Later or the beautiful The Quiet Earth.

The reason is because in each case, we meet a confused and scared protagonist who wakes up/emerges into a world where everyone's disappeared and has to figure out what's happened. The plots of such films are inherently Hitchcockian, and I like finding out how each particular mass disappearance has happened and how those left behind make it.

In this case it's newscaster Luke (Christensen – wonder if anyone else thought that was funny?), who comes out into the city to find cars smashed everywhere, newspapers blowing through the silent streets and piles of clothes lying everywhere. In one of the most arresting images of the film, a jumbo jet slowly falls nose-first to the ground several blocks away, erupting in flame.

By the time he makes his way to the bar owned by James (Latimore) days later – the only place with the power still on thanks to a basement generator – Luke has become like a ninja, jogging through the streets adorned with torches to keep the dark at bay, methodically searching for provisions and a car that doesn't have a flat battery.

Because although it's never made that explicit in the script, the dark has become some sort of living thing that's taken everyone. For some reason that isn't ever explained, the days become shorter and nobody's sure if the sun will even rise the next day. You'll be reminded of the demon/shadow things that take the bad people to hell at the end of Ghost - crawling along the walls and closing in to claim their victims like barely-visible monsters, invisible claws clicking across the buildings and walls as they close in.

After Luke placates the twitchy James and relieves him of his gun, Paul and another survivor called Rosemarie (Newton) – out of her mind with worry after her baby's one of those who's disappeared – make their way to the bar too. Luke wants to leave and try to get somewhere safe outside the city, but Paul is hurt, James is scared and Rosemarie thinks if they stay they'll be able to find the people they've lost.

There are a few interesting ideas and motifs here – the sequence of Paul escaping via an underground tunnel when you realise it's all in his mind as he loses the battle with the darkness is particularly sublime. But it seems a bit too much of it was lost in editing, when some of the more distinctive aspects of the plot have had too much taken out of them, meaning the stuff that's left doesn't always make much sense.

And while he'll never win an Oscar, Christensen does much better here than he ever did as Anakin Skywalker.

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