- The Vanishing (1988) ( Spoorloos )
- The Vanishing (1988)
Release Date: 19-11-2012
Details: Forget Hitchcock, forget Brian De Palma, The Vanishing is one of the scariest, most disturbing thrillers ever made. Yet there's not a knife, a gun, or a drop of blood in sight. The terror in George Sluizer's film is wholly psychological, insidiously uncoiling itself before our incredulous eyes.
A young Dutch couple on holiday in France stop at a motorway service station, where the girl inexplicably vanishes. Desperately her boyfriend searches for her. Meanwhile, we're introduced to a dull, respectable French paterfamilias who, we gradually come to realise, is the man responsible for the girl's disappearance. But we don't know why, nor--yet more tantalisingly--what he's done with her. Neither does the boyfriend, for whom her disappearance becomes an obsession (the film's French title is L'Homme qui voulait savoir--"The Man Who Wanted to Know".) Finally, horribly, he finds out.
Operating quietly and cunningly, Sluizer keeps us constantly on edge. There's the unconventional plot structure, dropping us unexpectedly into what turns out to be an extended flashback; the twitchy disorientation of the hero, adrift in an alien language and culture (a shrewd use of the film's joint French/Dutch parentage); and above all the chillingly downbeat performance of Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu as the abductor, a living demonstration of the banality of evil.
The Vanishing is one of those rare movies that insinuates itself under the skin of the mind and cannot be dislodged. Ill-advisedly, Sluizer let himself be tempted to Hollywood to direct an English-language remake that jettisoned all the subtlety of the original and tacked on an inane happy ending. Shun that version; this is the one to go for.
On the DVD: The Vanishing comes to DVD with these slim pickings: the theatrical trailer, a filmography for Sluizer and a gallery of stills. But the transfer, digitally remastered in the original widescreen ratio, looks good and the sound matches
Package Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
Languages: English, Dutch, French