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The Vanishing (1988)

June 23, 2009

3/10 Grudges Against BRAVO

I finally got to see this last night after waiting for it to appear on Netflix for ages now. What a freakin’ disappointment.

The Vanishing is a French movie about a guy whose girlfriend disappears when they stop at a gas station while on vacation, the boyfriend’s continued search for answers three years after the said “vanishing”, and a guy with a sinister red beard who may or may not be behind it all. Sounds good in theory, but it just isn’t enough.

I’ll try not to give too much away because this is one of those movies where you’re better of knowing next to nothing about what goes on if you want to get the most out of it. And one of the reasons I might be more inclined to dislike The Vanishing is because the first time I heard about it was also the time I had the ending ruined for me.

See, around Halloween each year, Bravo runs a special on “The 100 Scariest Movie Moments”. So two years ago I decided to sit down and watch the whole thing, because I guess that’s what I did with my spare time in college. Since I’m big on horror movies, I knew more or less all of the ones listed, but it was the “scary movie moment” from The Vanishing, a movie I’d never heard of, that really peaked my interest.

Turns out, that moment is what the entire movie was leading up to, a moment that’s intended to be a total surprise to the audience that pretty much makes the whole thing worthwhile. But since I knew it was coming all along, my reaction was about the polar opposite of what it should have been.

Thanks a lot, Bravo.

But then again, the same thing happened with The Sixth Sense and that movie was awesome (I think I’m cursed or something). So keeping that in mind, there’s more to this movie that really didn’t work for me aside from a spoiled ending.

First: it’s boring. It moves along at a snail’s pace, doesn’t really build up the tension the way it should, and it takes forever to move the plot along.

Second: the script more or less spells out the direction the story is going in and doesn’t leave a whole lot to the audience to assume outside of what they’ve probably already figured out. So much for the element of surprise.

And finally: I really didn’t care all that much about the characters or what happened to them because they didn’t really seem to care all that much either. The main character gives up searching for his girlfriend maybe 48 hours after she vanishes, then only takes up the search again three years later because he randomly has a dream about her. That’s not drive, that’s just…I don’t know what that is, but it’s stupid.

The lead (over)actor really bothered me, too. So did the other guy’s red beard.

Maybe my expectations were too high for this movie, and maybe I should have just gone back to playing Halo instead of watching Bravo for five hours. But since I can’t change the past, I just can’t bring myself to recommend The Vanishing. It does have a good ending, but what’s the point of a good ending if everything leading up to it is overwhelmingly forgettable?

Talk amongst yourselves.

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