THE GIST OF THE LIST: Tricky thrillers that feature a character who mysteriously vanishes and the sub-sequential denial of that character's existence by others... often leaving the one and only character who knows of that person's existence to ask - am I crazy or is there a conspiracy?

Not to be confused with missing person mysteries or anything of that ilk, this is a list which is very specific in its requirements - a person needs to vanish, at least one person needs to realize that the said person has vanished, and other characters need to deny the character ever existed or was there.



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The Midnight Warning (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
Guests at a luxury hotel are horrified when they witness a man literally "disappear into thin air." The vanished man's relatives hire a detective, who goes to the hotel to investigate the disappearance. (63 mins.)
“ NOTES: Supposedly, many of these films are loosely based on a real life incident at 1893 Chicago World's Fair where people vanished for no apparent reason. In reality, it was later found out that serial killer H.H. Holmes would kidnap them and kill them in his basement. None of the films offer this solution.

MY RATING: NOT VIEWED ” - Schwenkstar
Covered Tracks (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Séraphine and her mother arrive in Paris to visit the 1867 World Exhibition. In an overcrowded city they must be accommodated in separate hotels... (81 mins.)
Director: Veit Harlan
“ NOTES: Another that's supposedly based on the 1893 Chicago World's Fair - at least, inspired by it - this time giving a propagandist reason for the vanishing that involves spy rings.

MY RATING: NOT VIEWED ” - Schwenkstar
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
While traveling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train. (96 mins.)
“ NOTES: This is Hitchcock's definitive take on the sub-genre. Probably the best example of this sort of story. Highly recommended. A true classic.

MY RATING: 9 ” - Schwenkstar
Phantom Lady (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A beautiful secretary risks her life to try to find the elusive woman who may prove her boss didn't murder his selfish wife. (87 mins.)
Director: Robert Siodmak
“ NOTES: A man is suspected of killing his wife and his alibi - a woman with a prominent hat - seems to have vanished as well as been forgotten by everyone who saw him with her the night of the murder... Collective amnesia? Conspiracy? Is the man simply lying? Crazy?

This is psychological German Expressionism meets Film Noir! Highly recommended!

MY RATING: 8 ” - Schwenkstar
So Long at the Fair (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A young woman visits Paris with her brother only to discover the following morning he has gone missing and the hotel staff have no recollection of his presence. (86 mins.)
“ NOTES: Terence Fisher directs another adaptation of this supposed World's Fair urban legend and adapts it the best. Its story is about a daughter who checks into a hotel with her mother. The mother isn't feeling well so she stays in the room while her daughter goes to the fair. When she returns, she not only can't find her mother, but her room is no longer there - a wall now stands where her door used to be! To top it all off, everyone says she checked in by herself and her mother never existed! One of the better examples of this sort of film.

MY RATING: 7.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Dangerous Crossing (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
When a beautiful bride boards an ocean liner with her new husband, he goes into hiding, and she becomes the target of a murder conspiracy. (75 mins.)
“ NOTES: Based upon John Dickson Carr's short story "Cabin B-13" about a woman who can't find her husband on a cruise ship... and everyone thinks she never had a husband and came onto the boat by herself! A rather fun yarn.

The same story was also filmed as an episode of Climax!

MY RATING: 7.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955 TV Series)
Episode: Into Thin Air (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
When a young woman leaves her ill mother in a Paris hotel room and comes back later, she finds her mother is missing, and all the hotel's employees deny she and her mother were ever there. (25 mins.)
“ NOTES: Another adaptation of the World's Fair incident. Remarkably similar to So Long at the Fair... meaning, it basically uses the same script but doesn't give it credit.

It's an effective episode but it's shorter running time, lower production values, and typical TV sensibilities keeps it from being effective as Terence Fisher's film.

MY RATING: 6.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955 TV Series)
Episode: Mink (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Paula Hudson has a stolen mink coat she tells police she purchased on a recommendation, and when they retrace her steps to find out how she obtained it, everyone denies they ever talked to her about it. (25 mins.)
“ NOTES: A woman owns a stolen mink coat which she claims she purchased legally... however, when she investigates with the police everyone seems to not recall the woman nor the mink coat she purchased...

Sure, the stakes aren't high, but it has some clever plotting.

MY RATING: 6 ” - Schwenkstar
Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
At Kimberley Prescott's villa, a stranger shows-up and claims he is her brother who supposedly died the previous year in a car accident. (88 mins.)
“ NOTES: Everyone thought Kimberly's brother died in a car crash, but sure enough he shows up a year later... but Kimberly says that's not her brother! However, everyone says it is! Is she crazy?

Supposedly remade twice in India - the first in 1963 entitled Shesh Anka (in the Bengali language) and the second in 1964 entitled Pudhiya Paravai (in the Tamil language) - but they changed the narrative around quite a bit, which now concerned a man wanting to marry a woman but runs into complications when his supposed dead ex-wife returns to stop the marital proceedings. Of course, he claims that the woman is not his wife while everyone else does.

MY RATING: 7 ” - Schwenkstar
Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A woman reports that her young daughter is missing, but there seems to be no evidence that she ever existed. (107 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
“ NOTES: A woman moves to the UK with her brother. She takes her daughter to school one day, but when she goes to pick her up she isn't there. To top it all off, the school says her daughter isn't even registered! The police begin to think the mother is crazy! Is she? A rather fun yarn.

MY RATING: 7.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Honeymoon with a Stranger (1969 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
While vacationing with her husband in Italy, a middle-aged woman wakes up one morning to find that the... (74 mins.)
Director: John Peyser
“ NOTES: Based on the play by Robert Thomas, a woman wakes up next to a man who is not her husband! However, everyone claims that the man is indeed her husband! Is she crazy or was her husband really kidnapped and swapped with another?

A rather dry affair. The later two remakes of the stage play are exponentially better.

MY RATING: 5 ” - Schwenkstar
The Screaming Woman (1972 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A wealthy former mental patient goes home to her estate to rest and recuperate. While walking the grounds... (73 mins.)
Director: Jack Smight
“ NOTES: Okay, this one somewhat challenges the requirements of being a "vanished person" thriller as no one technically vanishes - both the hero and the audience knows the woman's fate - but it still provokes the same feeling as only our hero knows someone is missing and no one seems to believe her (because she just so happened to have been released recently from an insane asylum).

The short story by Ray Bradbury takes about a third of the time to read and is exponentially better so do yourself a favor and just read that instead.

MY RATING: 5 ” - Schwenkstar
Dying Room Only (1973 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A married couple are traveling on a deserted desert road at night. They stop at a diner and the husband goes to the men's room... (74 mins.)
Director: Philip Leacock
“ NOTES: A woman stops at a diner in the middle of nowhere with her husband. She goes to the bathroom but when she comes out her husband is gone. The workers say they don't know what happened to him. How could her husband just vanish?

The legendary Richard Matheson ("I Am Legend") wrote this twisty gem, which happens to be one of the better examples of this sub-genre.

MY RATING: 7.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Cry Panic (1974 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A man accidentally runs over and kills a pedestrian outside a small town. He begins to suspect that the locals, including the sheriff, are keeping secrets about the victim. (74 mins.)
Director: James Goldstone
“ NOTES: An interesting twist on the sub-genre - a man accidentally runs over another man with a car. He calls the police but when the police arrive the body is gone with no trace of an accident. The police think the man didn't hit anyone. The neighbors say they didn't see or hear anything. It's tempting to let something like this go, but the man *knows* he hit someone... or is he crazy?

MY RATING: NOT VIEWED ” - Schwenkstar
Thriller (1973 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
At breakfast in a country hotel, American tourist Cathy More inquires about the whereabouts of her cousin Jane... (65 mins.)
“ NOTES: A woman checks into a hotel with her sister. The next morning, she can't find her sister anywhere. When she asks the hotel workers, everyone says the woman checked in by herself! Is she going crazy or is there a conspiracy at work? The resolution to this one is one of the more surprising for this sub-genre.

MY RATING: 7 ” - Schwenkstar
One of My Wives Is Missing (1976 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Daniel Corban's wife Elizabeth disappeared after they had a fight. Then she shows up, yet he insists that the woman isn't actually his wife. (93 mins.)
Director: Glenn Jordan
“ NOTES: Another adaptation of the play by Robert Thomas by the great Peter Stone. It is an incredibly twisty tale about a man who can't find his wife... and when the police find her and return her to him, he claims that the woman is not his wife! Probably the most unpredictable of the lot and therefore one of the best - too bad it's direction is incredibly flat. That said, the plotting makes this highly recommended.

MY RATING: 8 ” - Schwenkstar
The Lady Vanishes (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Whilst traveling in pre-war Nazi Germany, a young couple realise a passenger seems to have been kidnapped off their train, but, no other passenger aside from themselves, recalls her. (97 mins.)
Director: Anthony Page
“ NOTES: Remake of the Hitchcock classic of the same name... and nowhere near as good if reviews are to be believed!

MY RATING: NOT VIEWED ” - Schwenkstar
Fox Mystery Theater (1984 TV Series)
Episode: Czech Mate (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Vicky's ex-husband, John, invites her on a trip to communist Prague. First John disappears, then her passport. Vicky finds herself alone and penniless in Prague and becomes a tragic pawn caught in a web of espionage and murder. (70 mins.)
“ NOTES: Similar to but predating Roman Polanski's Frantic by four years, in an eastern European country a woman on vacation with her husband checks into a hotel... but the husband mysteriously disappears, along with his luggage, passport, as well as anyone's recollection of him.

MY RATING: 6.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Vanishing Act (1986 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In the Rocky Mountains, Harry Kenyon seeks out his missing wife Chris in the Winter Parade. Harry meets... (95 mins.)
Director: David Greene
“ NOTES: Yet another version of the play by Robert Thomas, but this one is based more on Peter Stone's screenplay for One of My Wives Is Missing more than anything else - in fact, it almost seems to be a direct remake of it. It certainly has better acting with more cinematic direction than the earlier version, but the changes in the script - notably the climax - is not quite as effective as Peter Stone's rendition of the tale. As a result, it's not able to replace the other but acts as a very good companion piece.

MY RATING: 7.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Frantic (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In a hotel room in Paris, a doctor comes out of the shower and finds that his wife has disappeared. He soon finds himself caught up in a world of intrigue, espionage, gangsters, drugs and murder. (120 mins.)
Director: Roman Polanski
“ NOTES: A Roman Polanski film featuring Harrison Ford as a doctor who checks into a hotel room with his wife. He decides to take a shower but when he finishes his wife is gone! The hotel don't recall his wife being there, the police are dubious if his wife is missing - let alone exists.

MY RATING: 7 ” - Schwenkstar
The Vanishing (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Rex and Saskia, a young couple in love, are on vacation. They stop at a busy service station and Saskia is abducted. After three years and no sign of Saskia, Rex begins receiving letters from the abductor. (107 mins.)
Director: George Sluizer
“ NOTES: This film deviates from the requirements in that no one denies the existence of the vanished person, but the atmosphere generated feels the same. This is a truly remarkable thriller - often cited as one of the quintessential examples of the genre and I can't dispute that claim. Just be forewarned that this is more subdued than usual - the thrills are more psychological.

MY RATING: 9 ” - Schwenkstar
Khoj (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Ravi gets a call from Father Anthony saying that his missing wife is with him in the Church.But when he meets her claims that she is not his wife. Inspector Balbir finds all the proofs are against Ravi but why is Ravi not ready to face it?
Director: Keshu Ramsay
“ NOTES: Once again - for the fourth time - this is a version of the play by Robert Thomas, but this time from Bollywood with singing and dancing... Yes, that's correct, they changed the tense psychological thriller in a melodramatic musical.

MY RATING: NOT VIEWED ” - Schwenkstar
“ NOTES: For the fifth - and hopefully last - time, this is the fifth version of Robery Thomas's play, but this time from Russia and as a comedy! Reviews suggest it's not very funny nor very good.

MY RATING: NOT VIEWED ” - Schwenkstar
Treacherous Crossing (1992 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
In 1947, a passenger on an ocean liner says her husband went missing right after they boarded together, but all evidence shows she's traveling alone. (88 mins.)
Director: Tony Wharmby
“ NOTES: Remake of Dangerous Crossing but nowhere near as good (by all appearances).

MY RATING: NOT VIEWED ” - Schwenkstar
The Vanishing (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
The boyfriend of an abducted woman never gives up the search as the abductor looks on. (109 mins.)
Director: George Sluizer
“ NOTES: An English-language remake of the 1988 Dutch classic that is woefully misguided in its third act.

MY RATING: 5.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Breakdown (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A man searches for his missing wife after his car breaks down in the middle of the desert. (93 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Mostow
“ NOTES: A loose remake of Dying Room Only. A man stops at a diner in the middle of nowhere with his wife due to their car breaking down. The wife agrees to go with a trucker into town for help while the husband stays back. However, when he sees the trucker again the driver now says he never gave his wife a lift! Where did his wife go? A very fun yarn that takes its foundation from the original TV movie and takes it in a new direction.

MY RATING: 8 ” - Schwenkstar
The Forgotten (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
After being told that their children never existed, a man and woman soon discover there is a much bigger enemy at work. (91 mins.)
Director: Joseph Ruben
“ NOTES: One day, a woman discovers her son has gone missing and that no one seems to remember her son - not even her husband! Is she crazy? Is there conspiracy afoot? The answer is utterly ridiculous and preposterous!

MY RATING: 5.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Superstore (2004 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Joan's ordinary trip to a Costco quickly becomes anything but when her daughter, Stacey, disappears. (12 mins.)
Director: Sam Zalutsky
“ NOTES: Short film concerning a mother who loses her daughter within a Costco... but none of the employees remember her having a daughter! Uh-oh! Certainly low budget with performances which are merely adequate, it ends on a somewhat ambiguous note which is somewhat frustrating.

MY RATING: 5 ” - Schwenkstar
Flightplan (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A bereaved woman and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet, the child vanishes, and nobody will admit she was ever on the plane. (98 mins.)
“ NOTES: A mother boards a plane with her daughter. They both decide to take a nap while waiting for takeoff. When the mother wakes up, she is surprised to find her daughter not next to her... and even more surprise to find out that no one seems to remember her daughter even being on the plane!

MY RATING: 6.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Changeling (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child. (141 mins.)
Director: Clint Eastwood
“ NOTES: A woman's son goes missing and she calls on the police to help her... the police return her son, but she claims it's not her child! Everyone claims it's him but she refuses to accept it! Is she crazy or is it a conspiracy?

This one plays out slightly different because - unlike the other films on this list - the audience *knows* what actually happened to the boy, while the main character does not. Besides that, it possesses all the same traits.

MY RATING: 7.5 ” - Schwenkstar
Unknown (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A man awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one, (not even his wife), believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is. (113 mins.)
“ NOTES: This one slightly strays from the others in that it's about a man who awakes from a coma and discovers that nobody remembers him - not even his wife! To complicate matters further, there is now another man whose has taken his place! Maintains the atmosphere of a "vanished person thriller" only that instead of someone being physically vanished, the person is instead "forgotten" by everyone.

MY RATING: 7 ” - Schwenkstar
Kahaani (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A pregnant woman's search for her missing husband takes her from London to Kolkata, but everyone she questions denies having ever met him. (122 mins.)
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
“ NOTES: Bollywood seems to visit this particular sub-genre fairly often - by my count, this is their fourth excursion into this type of story - but this film is easily their best example of it. It may be less focused on the "is-she-crazy-or-isn't-she" aspect that the other films on this list seem to love as it instead focuses purely on the conspiracy aspect - what happened to her husband and why is no one talking? A labyrinthine tale of government corruption, terrorism, and personal vendettas follow. Of course, once you get to the end you realize the filmmakers were establishing a clever ruse the whole time. A truly surprising ending.

It's wonderful to see that there is still life in this sub-genre.

MY RATING: 8 ” - Schwenkstar
7th Floor (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
A father gets into a desperate search to find his children who disappeared while going down stairs from their apartment in the seventh floor. (88 mins.)
Director: Patxi Amezcua
“ NOTES: Spanish film concerning a divorced father who is taking his children to school. In their mother's apartment complex, the dad and kids decide to have a race to the bottom floor - he will take the elevator and them the stairs. However, when the father reaches the ground floor, the kids are nowhere in sight and the doorman said no one left the building. A frantic search begins - how could the kids have simply vanished while running down the stairs? Have they been kidnapped? Are they simply hiding? Has a resident taken them? Is the cop involved? A conspiracy regarding the dad's work?

This one strays slightly from the formula as no one denies the existence of the children, but it generates the same atmosphere of mystery and desperation - including us even doubting the intentions of the parents themselves.

MY RATING: 7 ” - Schwenkstar
The Lachrymist (2014 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A woman leaves her husband in their hotel room and finds she's unable to return. After inquiring with the staff, they insist that not only are they not registered guests, no one has seen her before. Panic and confusion begin to take hold. (25 mins.)
Director: Matthew Gowan
“ NOTES: A short film executed in one long take concerning a woman who leaves her husband in their hotel room to get a newspaper, but the hotel staff has no recollection of her being a guest and when she returns to her room her husband and their belongings are gone.

Starts off interestingly but it doesn't resolve anything in the end, leaving you unsatisfied.

MY RATING: 5.5 ” - Schwenkstar