Brad Anderson’s apocalyptic horror fable opens with great promise, and while parts of the movie will peak your interest, overall it’s fairly disappointing. With a great cast at his disposal, the end-of-days tale Vanishing on 7th Street held such potential but in the end feels unfinished and unexplained.
On a normal everyday morning, without warning, a wave of darkness blankets the entire city destroying all electronic devices, including all light sources. Daylight completely disappears and all that is left are the clothing remains of victims across the city. The entire city’s population has vanished into thin air. All except for a handful of people – a movie theater operator, Paul (John Leguizamo), a TV news anchorman, Luke (Hayden Christensen), a physical therapist, Rosemary (Thandie Newton), and a 12-year-old boy, James (Jacob Latimore) – who were all near light sources at the time of the event.
Like moths to a flame, the four later find themselves lured to a bar in the middle of the city, where they join together to find safety using light to fend off the ominous darkness. With neither one certain of the reasons behind the current events, nor what the darkness is that is consuming everything, they discuss religion, life and a future in a world of complete darkness.
“I’m here because I will myself to exist,” says Luke.
Vanishing on 7th Street explores a different and unique view of the Christian prediction of The Rapture and favours biblical allegories – starting with the “7” in the title name and the character names, even ending with a religious experience at a church. But to what outcome? Anderson argues that Vanishing is an existential thriller, pitting people against the ultimate force; the darkness, which constantly calls out for us.
“Am I in heaven?” asks Paul, to which Luke answers, “Better. A bar.”
It could have all been interesting if the scary bits weren’t all cerebral. An extra dose of action would have helped move the plot along too. With a cast full of talent, except for Newton’s annoyingly tearful character, Vanishing on 7th Street promised to be a lot smarter. After nearly 30 minutes it loses its charm and becomes victim of the same old apocalyptic ideas.
It’s a low-budget affair, but it might be worth sitting through, at least once.