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Ever since I chanced upon "Don't Look Now" with Donald Sutherland obsessed with finding his little girl whom he is convinced has returned to life, have I been taken in by a film. This is about a young man who is filled with guilt after his wife is abducted at a gas station. He devotes his entire life to finding out what happened to her. He searches the area around the station, believing the evil is there. He is right because in addition to being let into his world, we are also let into the sick mind of the murderer. He is a man who practices abducting women. He times how long it takes for chloroform to work on a person. He practices getting women into his car. His other life is that of a respected, loving, family man. He has a spooky kind face and he works as a math teacher. Eventually the two forces meet in the third year anniversary of the abduction. Go along for the ride, but be prepared before you do so.
"The Vanishing" is a fantastic thriller, but in a very different way
than most thrillers. It is about knowledge - about what the characters
know about the disappearance, and what they know about themselves. It
skillfully navigates through several genres--with elements of classic
thrillers, psychological horror, and mystery. What really impressed me,
however, was how accessible it is. Even viewers who would not normally
be drawn to contemporary European cinema will be captivated. Director
George Sluizer unfolds his story with unnerving precision. Cutting back
and forth in time, he traces the paths taken by the three main
characters, as if running an omniscient finger along the lines of a
fatalistic road map.
The emotional apprehension runs high from the very beginning. We know that Saskia is going to vanish, but Sluizer toys with us for a while, constantly reminding us that it is coming. Things get slightly stranger once we are introduced to Raymond, but the question of what happened to Saskia and whether or not she is his only victim is constantly present. The husband has advertised all over France and Holland for his wife. He can think of nothing else - even though he is in a new relationship, with a woman who tries to understand the obsession. The abductor, of course, has seen the advertisements. He is not without sympathy for this man. And so the final scenes unfold.
What makes this film so appealing to a broad audience is the way that it connects to things that are universal. Like all great horror, the suspense in "The Vanishing" comes from fears to which we can all relate: the sudden and unexpected disappearance of a loved one, and the disorientation that comes from being a stranger in a new place, unable to find anyone to help. These anxieties quickly heightens powerful emotions, and draws viewers into the film immediately. Piecing together when all of this happens takes most of the film to accomplish, and it represents an important part of the mystery. The timing of the events becomes clear in the same horrible way that the events themselves do, all unfolding as things progress towards the now-famous conclusion, in which everything becomes suddenly and disturbingly clear. This process never feels manufactured or arbitrary, and, once again, deepens the viewing experience.
I must have seen this film, on TV, in the early 90s - not long after it
came out. I was shocked by it more than by pretty much any other film I
have seen. The ending haunted me. And haunted me. It was deeply
But surely once you know the dénouement it would spoil the film, if you saw it again? Er... no. Not at all.
Recently I managed to get the DVD (for some reason I have never seen it on TV again) and knowing the end makes no difference. If anything it enhances what comes before.
Because what comes before is cinematic, directorial brilliance. It may seem slow but it grips like a vice because the horror is SO real, SO everyday, SO could-have-happened-to-you. Because we have all stopped on a motorway while a loved one goes to the toilet... and a few minutes later you start to think that they have taken just a bit too long to return. Or is that because I have seen this film?
The only "problem", in a way, is that the ending is so overwhelming that you forget all this on first viewing. On second or third you see the sheer brilliance, and it grips you all the more - the sheer inevitability of what is to come.
I babble. Just watch the film, and then ask yourself if you have ever been more disturbed by two hours of cinematography.
Saskia and Rex are a Dutch couple on the road, traveling through France
when they run out of gas and they argue. When they stop at a gas
station, she goes inside for a drink. He waits for a long time and when
she is nowhere to be found, he questions fellow customers, but no one
has seen her.
The disappearance become an obsession and he spends the next three years looking for her. A new girlfriend leaves because of his all consuming search. During a television appearance, he describes a dream of a golden egg he shared with Saskia just before the separation.
A chemistry teacher and family man is revealed in a flashback plotting to kidnap a perfect stranger. Raymond becomes amused by Rex's dogged determination to find out what happened to his mate. Ray meets him and explains that he needed to test whether or not he could commit a criminal act. He avoids harm at Rex's hand by reminding him that he will never know Saskia's fate if he kills him. They come to the same gas station where the vanishing occurred and Rex is told to drink a cup of coffee in order to learn what he did with Saskia. The ending is absolutely perfect, so I can highly recommend this mystery thriller.
While traveling through France, a young couple from Amsterdam stops for
gasoline and soft drinks at a rest stop. When his lady vanishes, Gene
Bervoets (as Rex) tries to retrace her steps. She is remembered as
having possibly been speaking with another man. There are scant clues,
and authorities are unable to solve the case. Three years later,
suspiciously psycho but good citizen Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu (as
Raymond Lemorne) approaches Mr. Bervoets with the promise of leading
him to the missing Johanna ter Steege (as Saskia). there's a catch,
however - Bervoets must agree to Mr. Donnadieu's unorthodox rules for
The vanishing person plot always forms the basis for a good movie, if the director and performers keep you interested; and, in this film, they certainly succeed. Rest assured, you will be rewarded by learning exactly what happened to the missing woman. It may not be what you're expecting, which is fine. But there are some head-scratching decisions along the way. Probably, we're supposed to go along with the story thread that begins when Ms. Steege tells Bervoets about her "Golden Egg" dream, which could even be argued as making the ending unexpectedly happy, and Donnadieu a do-gooder through and through. It provokes thought...
******** Spoorloos (8/29/88) George Sluizer ~ Gene Bervoets, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Johanna ter Steege, Gwen Eckhaus
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of the few movies that haunted me in the night. The main
quality of the story in its entirety is the main fear of many people to
lose your girlfriend all of a sudden. This often happens in our real
life, but the kidnapping of Spoorloos is imaginable in reality, but
hardly ever happens in such a gruesome way. Saskia has such an
innocent, reliable, devoted personality that she is one of the most
unexpected random victims of Raymond the sociopath. She didn't expect
her dream of the golden egg to realize by being buried alive by anyone
she has just met on a petrol station. The way she felt while wakening
in a coffin after the anaesthesias must be a multiple paramount of her
most awful dreams.
Despite the abundant gruesome scenes, this movie has moved me in a positive sense: on her own request, Rex had promised Saskia to never leave her alone again. Even after her vanishing, he went beyond all his borders to figure out what had happened to her by consciously taking the risk of being assassinated himself too. I think that hardly any boyfriend would emphasize his promised unconditional loyalty in such an eternal way!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I Cannot Think Of A Thriller Film That Comes Close To The Standards
That This Does.
The Idea Of This Film Is One That Has Been Copied So Many Times: How Far Would You Go To Find A Missing Loved One? Well George Sluizer Pulled It Off Brilliantly By Also Showing Things From The Side Of The Killer And His Motivations.
The Acting Is Fantastic. I Am Not Just Saying That, This Film Has Character Development For Gene Bervoets's Character That I Actually Wanted Him To Find Johanna Ter Steege's Character.
The Only Problem With This Film For Some People Is That It Didn't Have A Happy Ending. I Said For Some People, I Am Actually A Fan Of Unhappy Endings.
Overall I Highly Recommend This To Anybody Who Is A Fan Of Thriller Movies.
One of the most chilling films in recent memory will likely send a shiver down even the most fearless spine, using not the easy shock of sudden scare tactics, but a more effective sense of accumulating dread. It begins not unlike a routine whodunit, when a Dutch couple's road trip abruptly ends after the young wife disappears, seemingly into thin air, and the bewildered husband begins an obsessive search for clues to what he believes (correctly, as it turns out) was a kidnapping. Parallel flashbacks reveal the methods and motivation of the man responsible (a memorable villain because he behaves so unlike a psychopath: he could be anyone at all), gradually revealing not just how and why he abducted a total stranger, but what his ultimate crime really was: the stuff nightmares are made of. The film is simple, elegant, and indelible, and unlike a lot of movies absolutely must be seen in a darkened theater for the proper claustrophobic impact.
Unsettling probably isn't the best word but hey. I wouldn't quite call
it disturbing (although it kind of is) but it definitely leaves you
with some dark thoughts/questions to ponder. When was it predetermined
I would/wouldn't do this/that? A central question. What's real freedom
or consciousness or something. Resonates a lot with me. It seems like
most people are willing to accept the narrow range of choices that
modern television (for example) promotes for us (the big question is
what are you gonna buy not what you're gonna do with your life or what
your values are). Yeah, I've some "society issues". They're all zombies
and I'm the only normal one. Trapped.
But it's especially interesting in regards to the concept of evil. Doing something because you can. Maybe the idea is things get pretty scary when you have no morals. Does the distinction between good and evil take away from our freedom? I'd say no but man was this movie fascinating. It's like the idea of kids wanting to do things simply because they are prohibited. Even if you wouldn't do it usually, you become attracted because you feel like you ought to have the right to (or like the excitement of a risk). Or out of boredom. That's a big one. Want less graffiti? Give them another outlet. Tougher laws will only bring more trouble. Same with smoking and speeding. Kids need inspiration, not scare-tactics. What *should* they do? What *is* so great about life anyway?
The whole film had a weird atmosphere to it. You never feel completely comfortable but it's intriguing. The characters are unpredictable but in a way that has an oddly familiar logic to it. Can't describe it, that's why I'm struggling... The impact by the end is pretty powerful. So, how is all this achieved then? Well, it's hard to say. I just feel like the creators hit upon an interesting idea and captured its mood perfectly. I find when trying to compose (or act, not that I can do either), it always helps if the emotion(s) come first. You have a real feeling and it naturally comes through in the music/performance and without you necessarily understanding the rationale/logic of the translation - just like in real life, it's just what we're born to do. Except these days, there seem to be all these rules about how you deal with emotions which messes up the natural connections. Whatever.
The performances were really good. Very human characters. Flawed but always searching and doing things. I also liked the obvious bit of symbolism with the coins and eggs. It's nice when a movie works on multiple levels. Too many movies may have great artistic quality or beauty but while being very difficult to decipher. Spoorloos is still open to interpretation but at least on the surface, it's clear what the central ideas/themes are. Even if you don't appreciate its more subtle qualities, you get a strong sense of its intended purpose and mood.
It's a great thriller different from what you've seen before that isn't afraid to raise some difficult and strange questions. The point is it gives them weight as unsolved mysteries of human life rather than trying to explain them. Few films have that kind of patience and of course, it pays off.
Meet Saskia and Rex. A young couple, in love and on holiday. During the long drive they get into a bit of a fight. Than they arrive at a gas-station. Saskia goes out to buy some drinks, Rex stays behind to fill up the car! Nothing out of the ordinary you might say, quite rightfully! But than Saskia doesn't return to the car! Rex searches for her but she's gone! We have of course witnessed her helping a wounded man, getting into his car and than he drugs her! But like Rex we are left wondering what happened. The quest for Saskia becomes Rex obsession and sole reason for living. There is a man who can help him, but will Rex be willing to pay the price? Yes it's slow-moving and there's no gore, but what this movie does expertly is getting under your skin. You can't help but be fascinated by Rex'quest which brings him on the trail of the man who knows. In the end Rex will know what has happened to Saskia. And so will we and we will never forget. That's the kind of movie this is. Chilling, the end will freak you out. I know it freaked me out
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