Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Vanishing (1988)

WARNING: May contain some spoilers.

The Vanishing is a Dutch/French language film about a heart broken boyfriend's obsession over his kidnapped girlfriend and, a film about the obsession of a sociopath. Rex and Saskia are on their way to a holiday weekend when Saskia goes missing. Rex, torn by her disappearance, takes on a three year search to find out what happened to her. Raymond, our kidnapper, is a family man, teacher, and incredibly intelligent. The film derives into his preparation of the kidnapping, even taking a comical approach to it as his first few attempts are a bit of a fail. Raymond, in respect of Rex, has decided to send him postcards awaiting the moment where they can talk face to face. Eventually Raymond approaches Rex in person and offers him everything he's wanted to know but only if Rex goes with him. This poses the question, would you go?

I can't relay what kind of viewing experience for this film might be to someone else but for me it was calm. Surprisingly for a movie about kidnapping I never felt anxious or overtly scared for Rex. The only thing was after the movie ended a creepy feeling over came me and I became genuinely disturbed by the entire experience. That was the movie's underlying effect. I attribute these elements to our killer, Raymond, who's very precise and in complete control of the movie and the viewers experience, which if you pull away is the utterly terrifying nature of the film. The movie might be a bit slow for some but if you are patient you'll see Saskia's disturbing kidnapping and her horrifying fate, which evokes a certain phobia (I won't mention it because it'll spoil the ending).

I don't watch a lot of Dutch films, in fact this is my first, so I can't say for certain how the acting fairs but from just what I like I thought the two male leads, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu and Gene Bervoets, were very interesting to watch. My favorite kinds of films are where the villain has more depth than just being evil and that's defiantly what we get with Raymond's character. His thinking process reveals to us that he doesn't kidnap out of sheer pleasure or from a psychological mishap during his childhood development. He just calculates that he can't be one extreme without the other. It's a bloodcurdling thought of a sociopath.

The directing and the writing are good. Tim Krabbe wrote the book and the screenplay and it's doubtful that he messed up his own novel, though I haven't read it. George Sluizer directs and later went on to direct the American remake which has mixed reviews. There's a lot of other little details that I appreciated about the film. Such as casual conversations about items that later show up in helps of the kidnapping.

If you can't tell I'm in love with this movie. From one horror fan to another, there are those who might be disappointed with the absence of gore. But the suspense, the ending, and the affair of watching these two men's obsession over the same woman compensate for it. It's a very good film, maybe of my favorites, but either way I'd say it's something to watch.

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