Released in 2010, directed by Brad Anderson and starring John Leguizamo, Hayden Christensen, and Thandie Newton, Vanishing On 7th Street is a part chilling, part suspenseful, and somewhat contemplative story of a mysterious disappearance of a city’s entire population.
The story begins at a movie theater, as a projectionist Paul (John Leguizamo) is reading about the disappearance of Roanoke colony and suddenly, the electricity goes out at the theater. When Paul goes to investigate, it soon becomes obvious that everyone has disappeared with only clothes left behind. The next morning, as a news reporter Luke (Hayden Christensen) wakes up, there is no electricity in the building. When he walks out on the street, there is no one around, only empty cars and clothes lying on the ground. After three days, Luke stumbles upon a bar that seems to have the power on. Inside, he finds a boy, James (Jacob Latimore), who is waiting for his mother to return. Soon after, a woman named Rosemary (Thandie Newton) comes in, looking for her baby son. Together, they try to keep the generator running, stay in the light (since people disappear in the shadows), and try to decide what to do next.
I thought the solution for the opening credits was rather interesting – they were shown in the light of a movie projector, which then smoothly went into the opening scene at a movie theater. What I really enjoyed about this movie from the very beginning were the cinematography and the lighting. The whole movie is an intricate play of light and shadow. The few panoramic shots of the empty streets with just people’s clothes lying around are pretty unnerving (I am Legend comes to mind). The special effects are not too obvious, and mostly, we don’t really see what is happening to the people, only shadows are shown crawling on various surfaces. There are quite a few chilling scenes that will probably make you want to keep your light on.
The cast is very important for a movie where there are only four characters on screen most of the time. I think all the actors did a convincing job, and everyone had their own back story that led them to this particular place. John Leguizamo as Paul had some very interesting scenes, but Hayden Christensen’s Luke seemed to undergo the most development.
I found the ending a bit unsatisfying, and even though movies don’t have to outright explain everything, in this case, there is practically nothing given to the viewer. There is not much to work off of, except the Roanoke story, and even that is vague. Nonetheless, give Vanishing On 7th Street a try, and keep your light on, just in case.