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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Vanishing on 7th Street (2010) Horror

Vanishing on 7th Street (2010) - When the film opens with movie projectionist Paul (John Leguizamo) reading a book on the Roanoke Colony, an early settlement in the "New World" where the entire group vanished and all the returning boat crew found was the word "Croatoan" carved in a tree, I knew what this film was about, of course one would have to be pretty dense, NOT knowing with a name like "Vanishing on 7th Street". Paul is in the film room when the lights go out, luckily for him he is wearing his handy head lamp, an essential tool for his job. Still he finds it strange and he goes to check it out, leaving the film room. Well an awful lot of people seemed to have left there clothes all over the place, yep that's right like Night of the Comet there are empty clothes all around, minus the red dust of the eighties flick. Paul naturally is freaked out as he walks around the connected mall. There is a security guy with a flashlight and the two get together. The film wastes not time setting its parameters, with the security guy hearing something off in the darkness, he goes to check it out, but when his flashlight goes out, dark shadows surround him and poof in an instant his empty clothes fall to the floor. Needless to say Paul is totally weirded out by this. So already we know, people who are still around had lights that did not go out in the initial black out and that if you loose your light you are going to vanish taken by shadows.
The next scenes are well done discovery scenes with the main characters being introduced and defined. They are scary enough, building a good amount of dread. Rosemary (Thandie Newton) works in a hospital and has lost her 9 month old child, she has a great operating room scene even though it makes no sense that the patient would be there but not the doctors. Then there is Luke (Hayden Christensen) a news reporter who wakes from a night of candlelight to find the world deserted. At one point he sees the little girl, Briana (Taylor Groothuis) running around on her own that we see a few times during the film. Luke eventually makes his way to the one lit up building in town as does Rosemary. When Luke arrives at the bar a 12 year old boy named James (Jacob Latimore) he is less than trusting but eventually we get things worked out and the three are all at the bar. The building has power only because it has a generator that James's Mom had rigged to the building panel. Thing is that whatever is going on it is draining away the power from everything, batteries, the sluggish running generator, car batteries, so at some point all the lights will go out. Now at this point the little girl is not in the group, she never does and we only see her running off every now and again. She is surviving on her own and although we never get her back story we see her again. Paul wakes in the street after a knock on the head, don't really remember seeing how that happened, but he makes his way to a solar powered bus stop that is still lit up. He has a pretty good concussion and lays there calling for help. This is when the group in the bar decide they have to go get him thus making our group complete.
The rest of the film is about how the group survives, after some exposition about the Roanoke Colony by Paul we get the counter of End of Days by Rosemary. What if every now and again the world reboots, starts over and this is the end of the old world? Well that would not be what happened on Roanoke but it at least fits into the whole End of Days thing. The ideas don't totally fit what we see happening but these are people stressed with the threat of disappearing themselves. We see when they are near the dark, the shadow people waiting to get them. They are throwing out ideas about what is going on so it doesn't have to totally match. We know that on top of energy sources failing the days are getting short a few as two hours of light when everyone is in the bar. There are flashbacks to fill in some of the details of how the people here survived and to add a bit more information about the dark but they felt a bit out of place. We do learn that this is not a local phenomena though that at least in Chicago it is happening too. The group starts to think that getting out of the city might be a good idea since it is just a matter of time until the lights go out. Now why they think that it is any different anywhere else is a mystery. Still the drive to survive is strong in humans so they come up with a plan. It involves pushing a pickup that has a weak but working battery a few blocks to the bar where they will then use the generator to jump start it and drive to "freedom".
When the truck is obtained the story really goes off the rails with the final two driving away but then one of them has to wander off to find a lost love one. The final person drives the truck poorly away only to see the word Croatoan on the side of a bridge I had to laugh out loud. Then the finish is so disappointing.
I really enjoyed the film for the most part, the atmosphere was creepy and the ideas okay. The idea of how these people would survive was solid each figuring out how to keep lights on around them. Why survive was discussed in the film as it needed to be. If this was the end of the world and God wanted humans to end, although he picked a 'mysterious' way of ending it who are we as humans to fight it? Free will I guess trumps all. Since the end of days theory does not really fit, but the idea of just a mass disappearance doesn't fit well either, I think I will go with the idea that this was some sort of alien invasion. Feel free to comment with your feelings on this one when you finally get to see it. I watched it on Same day as theaters on the Comcast On Demand so it may not get a big release.
Rating (5.2) 5.0 and up are recommended in the Zombiegrrlz system, Rent it!

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