Tuesday, October 25, 2005

31 Days of Des' Horror Favourites: #7 The Vanishing

Why I like it: I mentioned before (I think during the Night of the Hunter review) that the sign of a good horror film is its ability to stay with you. Few films can do this as well as 1988's The Vanishing. It is a Dutch film directed by George Sluizer originally titled "Spoorloos" in the Netherlands and "L'homme qui voulait savoir" in France (translated as "the man who wants to know").

I almost had a heart attack when Meg and I were in Belgium last Spring and she had gone into the train station to get information on the trains we were supposed to take. I stayed outside with our friends and guarded the bags. Time passed and I started to get a little worried. More time passed and I started to freak out. I walked into the train station and looked frantically for her. It was a sea of people going from train landing to train landing, smoking cigarrettes, drinking coffee and meeting friends. After 5 or 6 terrifying minutes Meg appeared with our directions.

Irrational? Probably. In fact I believe that this movie is entirely to blame for that incident. Before the movie I would probably have sate and got fed up over having to wait so long. The movie stuck in my mind and didn't just play on a fear as many horror movies do, it created a fear.

What's it about, Des? Well...let me tell you:

First, let me posit a situation and then ask a question. Suppose you and a loved one are on a road trip. A vacation somewhere far away and you begin to have a heated argument (as road trips bring people together for long periods of time and fighting is only natural). You stop at a gas station/snack bar on the highway to cool things off and have a refreshing drink. You split up for a few minutes because, well, you get the chance to do so and when you return your loved one is nowhere to be seen. It's okay, they probably just wandered off, right? Sit and wait. Hours pass and it becomes evident that she just hasn't wandered off. She's gone.

Rex, the man who has just lost his girlfriend Saskia, spends the next three years looking tirelessly for her. He goes on television pleading to just know what happened to Saskia. When all hope seems lost and Rex seems about ready to move one he gets postcards from a man promising to let Rex know exactly what happened to Saskia.

Enter: Raymond. Played by Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu Raymond is one of the most chilling and terrifying characters ever put on celluloid.

What's really brilliant about this movie is that part of it is told from Raymond's perspective. We get peaks at his family life with his wife and beautiful children with very little information as to what is actually befall Rex and indeed Saskia. It's nail-biting and downright aggravating how they make you wait. When you finally find out you wish that you hadn't known.

You would want to know what happened, wouldn't you?

Don't EVER Check this out:
-The Vanishing-The 1993 American remake also directed by George Sluizer and starring Kiefer Sutherland, Sandra Bullock and Jeff Bridges is like a Disney movie compared to the original. It terribly distorts the ending and had me asking why Sluizer would remake his own movie so poorly.

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