Vanishing on 7th Street

All of us have seen those souls out there in the dark. How do we know that they’re not the people that we’ve already lost calling us over? How do you know that that’s not heaven and that this isn’t……..

Year Released : 2010017_vo7s_1sht_v2.indd
Director : Brad Anderson
Cast : Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo and Jacob Latimore

It’s not often that a film sums up an actor’s career. Hayden Christensen may have been a famous actor during the mid-2000s due to his involvement with the Star Wars prequels, but since then he has been restricted to smaller films due to heavy criticism over his acting style, the fact he has only starred in five films this decade tells it’s own story, and if they’re anything like this effort then it would be hard to see him returning to the limelight that playing Anakin Skywalker gave him.

Making just over 10% of it’s $10m budget, including only just securing just over $20,000 in the US box office and not being released at all in the the UK cinema, it’s hardly surprising that very few people have ever heard of this film. The fact you can also currently get it for just 9p from some online retailers so it all.

To be fair it’s not an awful film, it has a good concept to it but it’s hard to really get behind it due to it’s slow nature, lack of character development and poor acting from the majority of it’s cast.

Plot

One day all the power goes off in the city, including personal devices such as mobile phones, cars, etc, but it isn’t just the power that disappears, it’s most of the people. The few that survive wake up to streets full of clothes, empty cars, old newspapers and no sign of life.

Luke (Christensen) figures out that you are only safe when you have light shining upon you as there is something in the darkness that is hunting them down. He meets fellow survivors Paul (Leguizamo), Rosemary (Newton) and James (Latimore) and they all take refuge in a bar that had a petrol powered generator.

With time limited due to a lack of petrol, and the fact that anything that produces light seems to last for less and less time (flares burning quicker than they should, petrol burning faster, batteries lasting considerably less when they have been charged), can they survive whatever waits in the darkness…and each other?

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So is it that bad?

To be far to the film, it certainly has an interesting concept and one of the things that I like is that what has caused the darkness and what hides within is never actually fully explained. It’s a post-apocalyptic style film that isn’t like any other as it isn’t caused by illness or war, and having seen a lot of other films set in a world with very few people left alive, this is actually relatively unique.

Now, I’m going to start with the positives.

Early on the film there are some excellent scenes, such as when Luke is exploring the empty streets and a plane comes crashing down in the background, or when Rosemary is searching for her child and she stumbles across a guy in the middle of having open heart surgery and has obviously woken up after all of the drugs have worn off. You can hear his blood-curdling screams before the power goes out and he is taken by the darkness.

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Before he finds the bar there is also a scene where you get an early glimpse into the type of person that Luke is. He is sat in a car scavenging things such as batteries and flares when someone asks him for help as his lighter has run out of fluid. Luke refuses to help him and he is very quickly taken by the darkness. That theme of Luke being selfish remains throughout, and his selfishness is quite iinterestingin many ways.

That’s where the positives end.

The acting in the film is so incredibly wooden that is is hard to really feel anything for the characters. Christensen continues to be awful in any acting role that he takes up. I’ve seen him in a few films since he played Anakin Skywalker and in each he is almost painful to watch. In this you never really get the sense that he in danger because his expression never changes, even before he realises the everyone else has disappeared he plays the character in such a wooden way that it is really hard to get behind him as an actor.

Thandie Newton also continues to fail to impress me, but for me the biggest surprise was Leguizamo. I am a big fan of his and am probably one of the few that genuinely enjoys watching him if the comments on the internet are anything to go by. In a filmography that contains a lot of films, this is the first one where I have found his acting to be sub-standard. Even if he’s not playing an important character, or an unlikable one, he has generally done well in standing out in films, such as the action film “Gamer” where he is barely in the film and yet is one of the most memorable actors in it. In this he just isn’t that interesting, he doesn’t grab the screen with his usual style and charisma.

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My main complaint with the film is that all of the characters are exceptionally one dimensional. Luke is a selfish guy who will do whatever it takes to survive, Rosemary spends most of the film moping about her lost child, Paul just seems to spend a lot of the movie trying to mentally recover after initially being taken up and then being returned for whatever reason (which again is not explained) and James rarely says a sentence that doesn’t revolve around finding his mother.

I think one of the main causes that a lack of character development is that you don’t really see any of the characters before the event happens, with the exception of Paul, and even then you don’t learn a lot about him in that scene. A few characters have a flashback scene but again you don’t really learn a lot about either of them other than why Luke knows how to surround himself by light. I would have preferred that to be left as a mystery as that’s one thing that I do like about the film, some things are just better off left alone.

And finally one of my biggest problems with the film is that it keeps showing you the ghostly movements of shadows to indicate that something is there. I mean don’t get me wrong, when they’re outside I get it but it does become a bit tedious as it keeps happening over and over and over again. Sometimes the unseen threat of it happening is more interesting than actually showing the darkness creeping in. For me it takes a lot of the tension out of the film when you can’t see how close something is to them as it makes it more suspenseful. If I can see it approaching them then it just loses something for me personal.

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So is it worth watching?

This is the sort of film that you’d expect to see on The Horror Channel in the UK, a channel which specialises in showing poorly made and budget horror films, and whilst there are worse horror films out there in terms of how they look, there are many more lower budget horror films that I find more entertaining than this.

If it’s on then yeah, go ahead and watch it, but I certainly wouldn’t go out of your way to watch it if I was you.

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