Vanishing on 7th Street (2010)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Vanishing on 7th Street</strong> (2010)

(On DVD, February 2012) There’s a lot to dislike about Vanishing on 7th Street, but before truly giving the film the critical savaging it deserves, let’s take a moment to point out what does work: Much of the first fifteen minutes.  As our lead characters discover themselves (nearly) alone in a deserted Detroit when people have all spontaneously disappeared leaving behind their clothes, there’s an aura of mystery over the film’s premise and a few effective visuals along the way.  An enigma is set up, promising an explanation.  But, as soon as the film clumsily jumps “three days later”, doubts appear about its good intentions.  As it soon becomes obvious, Vanishing on 7th Street isn’t interested in answers.  In fact, its lack of interest extends to such things as internal consistency, continuity or compelling characters.  Not only are there no answers, but the mechanics of what’s happening are wildly inconsistent, and often hand-waved with unknowables.  Laws of physics change, and the plot rules are blurry enough that viewers stop caring about what’s happening on-screen.  It’s not even clear that there’s a threat of sorts –or what the shadow figures are doing, exactly.  Once dark jousts with darker as a cinematography motif, it’s hard not to roll eyes and laugh at the ineptness of the results.  By the middle of the film, the characters are so irritating that they might as well die sooner than later: I have seldom been less interested in Thandie Newton than in this film, and even an energetic performance by John Leguizamo (as a character who comes back from the dead for no reason whatsoever) isn’t enough to redeem the film.  By the time the credits wrap up, Vanishing on 7th Street earns a one-way trip to the “bad straight-to-DVD horror” shelf.  As far as the extras go, the half-hour interview with the director confirms that the filmmakers had no interest in offering answers; left unknown is their lack of ability is delivering anything more compelling than a first-act mystery.

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