“Vanishing on 7th Street” (2011) kicks off with an extraordinarily good start — it’s begins as an especially frightening supernatural apocalyptic thriller. Nearly everyone in the City of Detroit disappears at once, leaving only several survivors to cope with ubiquitous shadow figures that wish to visit the same fate upon them. The opening scenes completely intrigued me, and one early moment made me jump.
Hayden Christensen is good enough in the lead role — he actually is a competent actor, despite the movies for which he gained infamy in the early 2000’s. (And I won’t name these widely panned films in which he starred, because I don’t want to start any wars with its ardent fanbase.) Thandie Newton is predictably quite good, John Leguizamo is predictably awesome, and the young Jacob Latimore is terrific too.
How sad, then, that this creatively conceived thriller so utterly loses its way. The film stumbles completely by the end of its first hour. We spend far too much time listening to four characters bicker in an isolated stronghold while the failing lights flicker around them. We also visit the same basic scare sequence a bit too often. (It’s pretty damned scary when the shadow figures encircle our protagonists at first, only to recoil when they’re repelled by the light. But it gets progressively less scary after the fifth or sixth time the movie shows this happening.)
There are enormous logistical questions about the plot’s setup and elements, too. Virtually all are left unanswered by the movie’s somewhat ambiguous ending. Was this … intentional? Was the movie intended as some sort of open-ended abstract art film, instead of a complete horror story? It certainly didn’t seem that way from its detailed and effective early scenes.
I can’t actually recommend this film. But it’s … different and interesting, I’ll grant it that. Based on the parts of it that scared me and piqued my interest, I’d rate it a 5 out of 10.