Vanishing on 7th Street (2010)

Vanishing on 7th Street is the latest movie from Brad Anderson, who has had a mixed career since his breakthrough with Session 9. It’s a Twilight Zone-style story, also owing a bit to the old Stephen King novella The Langoliers (filmed indifferently for TV by Tom Holland in 1995). A few random characters are isolated by darkness encroaching on their everyday environments in Detroit. When I say darkness, that’s literally what it is, creeping in at the edge of the screen and removing any unfortunate bystanders from existence, and forcing our heroes to keep themselves well-lit and hold back the night.

John Leguizamo in Vanishing on 7th Street

You’ll probably know already if you’re likely to enjoy this set-up, and Anderson tries the patience of even the most committed Rod Serling fan in the movie’s early stages, while our less than admirable hero (Haydn Christensen) takes his time to meet up with the always-irritating Thandie Newton in a bar. Fortunately for us, the other two main characters are played by newcomer Jacob Latimore, as the son of the missing bar owner, and John Leguizamo as a movie theater projectionist. AMC get prominent product placement due to this, which makes the movie’s non-existent theatrical run even more of  a mystery.

The budget is very low, the effects are just about passable, and its not a movie to watch if you’re waiting for a pat explanation of the  events, but there are enough weird and scary moments to keep you entertained if you’re willing to go along with the premise. And if you don’t ask why the main characters don’t set the whole city on fire rather than gather round one generator with a limited fuel supply. It’s great to see Leguizamo playing a sympathetic character for a change, and he takes the chance to act everyone else off screen.

Anderson eventually comes up with a graceful ending, if not any sort of logical resolution, and I suspect it’s the lack of an easy answer that accounts for the negative reviews. While it’s not earth-shattering,  Vanishing on 7th Street is quirky and memorable and is worth your time.


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