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The Non-Hip6 April 2003

Observe these 3 rules if you plan on seeing this film:

Rule #1, AVOID the 1993 remake "The Vanishing" or if you absolutely need to see it, watch the original first.

Rule #2, If you're of a sensative nature and easily depressed, don't watch this.

Rule #3, do NOT read any other comments on this film until you have seen it. This is a love it or hate it type of movie and looking for opinions to decide if you want to see this WILL ruin it for you. See it first, form your own opinion, then check back here. Trust me on this, you'll thank me afterwards.
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How far would you go to find the truth?
Golgo-1329 August 2004
After reading several recommendations of Spoorloos (a.k.a. The Vanishing), I went ahead and bought the Criterion DVD release, which, by the way, has no extras. Let me say, I was not disappointed with the movie. If you like well-made, well-directed thrillers, it is definitely worth checking out. The story was simple enough; Rex's girlfriend mysteriously disappears at a gas station they stopped at while on vacation. Cut ahead three years and you still have him searching for her. Due to his persistence, the man responsible finally decides to get involved.

With very little violence and no gore, Spoorloos was able to leave the viewer in a truly depressing state. Some people might call it boring but I found the slow and steady pace to work in favor of the characters, as the acting was top notch. So was the direction of the scenes, which were set up quite nicely. It was interesting to see such attention paid to both the victim and criminal's point of view. You could really understand the desperation, confusion, and obsession that Rex felt with his loss. In turn, you see cold evil in a form that does exist in our world. While maybe not shocking to all viewers, the ending is terrifyingly tragic, made so by the realism and calmness throughout the film. Just ask yourself, how would you feel if that happened to you?

If pushed for a criticism, I would say that some of the symbolism seemed a bit too heavy handed but other then that, this is an intelligent, deep thriller. I have not seen the American remake (oddly enough, both versions are from director George Sluizer) but I can all but guarantee that the original is what you want to go with first. Many people suggest skipping the remake altogether!
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An absolutely chilling, deeply unsettling horror masterpiece
kanerazor28 December 2003
The Vanishing is a movie only those with ice in their veins can ever forget. The direction is absolutely brilliant, from the opening frames until the very end. I felt Saskia's fright when she thought she lost Rex initially, and her description of her dream made me feel chills. When she disappeared, Rex's combination of rage, frustration, anxiety, and grief was torture to watch. A particularly powerful moment was when he slammed the car door shut so hard the window crumbled into pieces.

Watching Rex become consumed in every way by his quest to find Saskia was also extremely difficult to watch, although it was certainly inevitable. I found the professor's description of his actions appalling in many cases, the most notable one being when he fixates on Saskia and we see his POV. Seeing Saskia warmly respond to him was devastating, knowing what would happen. Throughout the film there was an overwhelming sense of doom and isolation, like this was a cruel world where even in the most idyllic settings evil lurked everywhere and attempting to fight it was futile. Rex undergoes one of the most harrowing emotional ordeals of any movie character ever, and when he is at the end of his rope his crucial decision would seem so insane out of context but viewers understand that it really is his only choice. The shock ending, especially the way it was done, almost made me scream, and I will never forget the final shot. The Vanishing could be shown in any film class on direction, as an example of perfection. Material that could have been turned into just a mediocre thriller with would have seemed like a lame twist was turned by George Sluizer into an utterly harrowing filmgoing experience. And that is the right word, because a movie like The Vanishing is not just watched-it is experienced.

I estimate I have seen around 700 movies in my life, and horror is my favorite genre. I have only seen two films that left me so scared that after they ended I couldn't even move. One was Psycho, which I saw 10 years ago when I was only 12. The other one was just this year-The Vanishing.
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You won't want to let your loved ones out of your sight after this film
ToldYaSo12 September 1999
There aren't too many scenarios like this one. The original version and the Hollywood remake of this film were both directed by the same man, George Sluizer. As I understand from popular opinion, this is one film that was fine the first time round, and not well received on the second go. I cannot fairly compare them, and I have no more desire to see the remake of "Spoorloos" than I do the remake of "La Femme Nikita", namely "The Point Of No Return".

I saw the original version upon the strong recommendation of a newspaper reviewer proclaiming it one of the most disturbing films they'd ever seen. The photograph of a young couple about to be torn apart in the paper reeled me in.

A pleasant holiday excursion goes horribly wrong when a man's lady friend goes missing at a crowded rest stop. He grasps at straws in desperation as very little can be done because few clues or leads exist. The abduction is arbitrary and nearly flawless.

The film was indeed well done and what struck me the most was the focus on that of the villain. It is a portrayal of a normal, respectable family man who trains himself in meticulous detail for an abduction. His cold, calculating approach is probably the most frightening aspect. His inhumanity is difficult to comprehend.

Many film endings can be shocking and may stick with you forever, and for a lot of people that is certainly the case with this film. That's why I was surprised to learn that the TV commercials for this film gave away the ending. However it didn't ruin the film for me.

The suspense and chilling setting of this film makes it hard to forget. The viewer constantly wondering, "What would I do?" or "How would I cope?". Impossible questions we all hope we'll never find the answer to.

Of course, keep a few handy responses in mind should you watch this with your better half when they ask the inevitable, almost rhetorical question, "What would you do if I went missing and you couldn't find me?"

"I'd surely die, dear."
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Gafke13 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This movie gave me nightmares for...well, I'm still having them. Rex and Saskia are a young couple on vacation. They stop at a gas station, Saskia goes inside and never returns. Rex becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her and, when at last faced with the man who abducted Saskia, finally has the chance to find out. But there's one condition: Rex must surrender himself to Saskia's abductor and agree to experience the same thing she herself went through. The only trouble is, he has no idea what that might be, or even whether Saskia is alive or dead. Rex believes that the Not Knowing is the worst thing, but it isn't. The Knowing is the most horrible thing of all.

This is a powerful film that practically punches you in the stomach with its gritty realism. The performances are flawless and haunting, and the climax and aftermath, delivered with a quiet matter-of-factness, are the very definition of horror. This is real horror, the kind we try not to think about but which can happen, and has. If this film doesn't disturb you, I can't think of anything that will. Highly recommended, but only for people who are emotionally equipped to deal with the fear and the terror that the camera never flinches from. People with claustrophobia would be wise to stay far away from this film.
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Powerful and unforgettable
FANatic-1014 April 1999
This is a most unsettling and haunting film which vividly depicts the banality of evil. American filmgoers who are too lazy to settle in to the ambiance and mood of foreign films will probably not be patient enough for it, though. I went to see it not knowing at all what to expect, and really got a jolt. One factor that made it so powerful was the everyday reality of it all. These are seemingly normal people you'd see on the street anywhere. I thought it was a masterful depiction of what would probably actually happen when someone you loved just disappeared out of the blue, and the turmoil of emotions that would be unleashed. If you are at all susceptible, the ending will absolutely chill you to the bone, and is the perfect topper to a great film. Please do yourself a favor, and DON'T make the mistake of seeing the American remake instead of the original!
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The banality of Evil
Horror is probably my favourite genre, and I have seen a lot of horror movies. There were only a few movies that really left me as paralyzed and disturbed as this one.

In the very beginning, the director masterfully lets you know that something is wrong, but you don't know exactly what and how bad it really is. You are left as clueless as the main character and through your own uncertainty you might get involved more than you think you would. The story is simple and the evil in it is banal, everything is so normal and so horrible at the same time. And it surely is the banality of evil and the tormenting uncertainty that make this movie almost unbearably creepy. The ending is absolutely, absolutely shocking and I still really don't like to think about it.

If you don't like monsters, blood and pornographic violence and if you are looking for a smart, really creepy psycho-horror movie, this movie is for you. In my opinion, Spoorloos is what good horror is all about.
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Brilliant suspense classic
Bill-30831 January 1999
When I searched for "The Vanishing," all I could find was that abysmal "Americanized" version of the film starring Jeff Bridges. What a horrible mistake of a movie that was. Let's consider, instead, the original film in which a fellow and his girlfriend are on an outing when she vanishes without a trace. He becomes obsessed with discovering what happened to her. Whether he can be completely successful in his quest is the whole point of the movie. Why the original director would remake this little masterpiece in English with a Hollywood ending is completely beyond me. See the original. You won't soon forget it.
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A European Hitchcock
tpoer23 November 2005
"The Vanishing" is one of my favorite movies, probably in my top ten. I first saw it in 1990 in San Francisco. Without giving anything away, the end of this Dutch/French film contains an extraordinarily diabolical twist, and at the theater at which I saw it, the projector crapped out with about 15 minutes left. Everyone was issued a free pass to come back, which I did the next day, having barely been able to get the creepy story out of my head. I couldn't wait to see what happened at the film's conclusion. Fifteen years later, it still makes me shudder sometimes. The American remake with Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland should, in my opinion, be avoided at all cost; the ending was changed, no doubt to suit the bottom-line aspirations of some brain-dead producer. But the European original is full of great acting (particularly from the villain, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu), a tight storyline, and, of course, a wickedly brilliant ending. It's a film worthy of Hitchcock.
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The Horror
barberoux17 March 2003
It is best not to know much about this movie before seeing it. It is sufficient to know that it is about a women who disappears and a man's obsession to try and find out what happened to her. This is not a sappy love story and it bears little resemblance to the pale American remake. Reading more about the story will ruin how it unfolds. It was well filmed and well acted. The ending is a shocker. I think reviewers who write a synopsis of the movie's plot do a disservice to people reading the review. The movie's story should unfold before a viewer. The enjoyment is in how the story is told. This is all the more true regarding "The Vanishing".
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Engrossing and provocative, a must-see
bregund17 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
***This review includes spoilers***

This dark, brilliant film has been much-talked about since its release in 1988, and for good reason: only a few films have such immutable power, leaving you with mental images that stay with you for months or even years. This film's austere ending is a commentary on the prevalence of heartless evil in our society. Reduced to its simplest expression, there is no joy in nature. Make no mistake, this is an ugly film that you will only want to see once. I cannot imagine anyone finding the same degree of stark satisfaction from the sanitized 1993 American version, complete with a happy ending tacked on to appease nervous producers. Please don't see the 1993 version.

Rex and Saskia are two young lovers on holiday, alternately loving and fighting as close couples are wont to do. Their flaws are revealed, making them more endearing: during the drive he becomes macho and demanding, while she rebels and becomes petty and shrill. After the fight, they are closer than ever. One cares about these characters, can imagine their lives together for years to come, possibly even getting married. She's earthy and fun-loving, while he is quietly appreciative of her company. Oddly, she presages the forthcoming events by recounting a strange dream about a golden egg. These two seem a perfect match. The sun sets on their short romance when they stop at a rest area and she disappears. He hangs around the rest area for hours, long into the night looking for her and trying to reconstruct her footsteps through the rest area. The sense of desperation and mystery lingers, and it shows in his pained expression. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one can identify with his quiet, desperate longing.

Several years later, Rex is still obsessed with Saskia's disappearance. His romantic partner, realizing that she can never take Saskia's place, walks out on him. Rex appears on talk shows, canvasses neighborhoods with flyers, and revisits their favorite places in an attempt to understand just why Saskia disappeared. This part is important: Rex wants to understand the nature of evil, and in order to successfully get through this film without lying awake all night with the ending forever running in your head, it's important to acknowledge this aspect of his character.

The film cuts to Raymond, the man who kidnaped Saskia: you might have imagined a raving maniac, but instead you see a gentle, kindly older teacher with a wife and son, living in a well-appointed flat and driving a Citroen; he might just as well be Pere Noel on summer holiday. This film is constructed like a crime scene investigation. First we experience the disappearance firsthand, and then we go into the mind and life of Raymond, showing how he coldly planned and carried out the kidnapping with as much emotion as changing the oil in his car. It is this two-part process which slowly builds the powerful suspense in this film. We see how methodical he is in his approach to the planned kidnaping, and, impossibly, we even laugh at him: looking for a victim, he inadvertently makes a pass at a young woman he knows, and she calls him on it, saying that he should be ashamed of himself. It is this twist of fate that drives him to kidnap a young woman from the rest area, where no one is likely to know him. So the fates have brought him Saskia.

Aware of Rex's obsession, Raymond offers to meet him in a public place and show him what happened to Saskia. Suffice it to say that the mystery of Saskia's disappearance is frighteningly revealed at last; listen closely and you can almost hear God laughing in the soundtrack. Because of the strong ending, I would recommend seeing this film with at least one other person.

There is nothing beautiful about this film; it is cold, ugly, and unfair. At the very least, maybe it will help you to understand the unreasonable nature of evil.
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Genuinely eerie and mesmerizing Dutch thriller.
HumanoidOfFlesh4 March 2010
A married couple stops on holiday at a gas station during a busy summer's day.It's warm and sunny.However the woman vanishes without trace.For the next three years her partner lives in turmoil without knowing what happened on that fateful day.That changes when the abductor contacts him and promises to reveal what happened on that day.Be careful what you wish for, because a mild-mannered chemistry professor hides a terrible secret.Eerie and slow-moving thriller in the vein of Robert Fuest memorable "And Soon the Darkness".I remember seeing it during early 90's on Polish television.The final revelation is genuinely chilling.The main performances are genuinely brilliant and the plot unfolds with intense precision.9 out of 10.
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Absolutely Terrifying (may contain minor spoilers)
zippyflynn25 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
There are very few horror movies that even slightly frighten me, and this is probably true for most grown-ups. The monsters in those films are caricatures, blatantly cartoon-ish villains that are one dimensional and, as mature people know, don't really exist. That's because most of the truly frightening monsters in real life wear clothes just like the rest of us, have normal jobs just like the rest of us and are often living right next door, usually appearing to be ordinary family men and women on the surface. They will wave at you or nod as you pass them, if that's the custom in your area, or perhaps they will just stroll quietly by you and you will never know the horrors they commit. Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killing cannibal, might have not gotten caught when he did if it weren't for that horrific stench of decaying corpses that permeated from his apartment; because on the surface he looked and acted just like a quiet, ordinary guy. And what scares us most of all, if we admit it or not, is not only how ordinary he seemed but that at one time he was just like us, he just started down a twisted, psychotic path somewhere along the way, a path any of us could have fallen into had we been in similar circumstances. The real monsters are in all of us. Fortunately, most of them are completely inactive which gives us, on the surface, most of the time, a fairly placid and uneventful life.

Then you watch Spoorloos. It works so extraordinarily well because it feels like a documentary, a slice of life of the three main characters, Rex, Saskia and Raymond. Rex's girlfriend Saskia, just mysteriously vanishes and, being a realistic film, you see the horror, loss and near insane obsession such a loss would bring. You witness his wrenching emotions, excruciating emptiness and desperation in trying to discover someway, anyway to find her. And then you meet Raymond, the man who looks like an ordinary man with a seemingly happy family and, for no apparent reason, you realize he is responsible for Saskia disappearing from Rex's life. But what did he do with her? Surely this man, this seemingly ordinary man, could not have done anything terrible could he? What follows is the unfolding of a mystery that moves so painfully and methodically, developing into such a real horror story that you find yourself stunned when the credits roll. And what really is scariest of all, the character that sticks with you the most, is the monster. George Sluizer, the director, carefully leads you through the story from every character's perspective but the one whose eyes you see through the most, is the monster. You are left wondering "how could he?" "could I ever do something like that?" Like life, it does not have a neat, tidy happy ending but rather leaves you with too many disturbing questions of an extremely disturbing story. This is movie making and story telling at its best. Not in terms of incredible special effects or beautiful cinematography but understated, realistic acting of realistic characters and story. Spoorloos, along with Roman Polanski's "Repulsion" are the two most frightening movies I have seen for they have haunted me the most, due to their unflinching, realistic, disturbing stories.

As a footnote, the director, George Sluizer, was paid a pile of money to direct a pile of crap, an American version of this story, the English title was also "The Vanishing" but this turd was made five years later (1993). Do yourself a great favor and do not confuse the two if you are renting, look for the Dutch/French version made in 1988. Also, if you run into the real monster from Spoorloos, or someone just like him, send him to meet Todd Graff, who wrote the Hollywood version and all the others responsible for that awful mess.
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The evil that walks among us
Jim-5005 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
With all the awful stuff that is going on in the world these days, writers often speak of evil and how it manifests itself. Terrorists, seen in cafes and unseen in airplanes, come out of dark places to render unimaginable death and suffering. Schoolkids suddenly kill each other for seemingly no reason, and without remorse. And the threat of things yet to come keeps the civilized world under a heavy cloud of fear.

With that in mind, you would not want to watch this movie for escapist entertainment. It tells the story of a sociopathic individual, who kills without remorse, but also without motive. On top of that, he knows that he brings sadness and suffering, but it does not move him. He knows this, too. And it does not bother him.

This is a good plot set-up, and the movie does an excellent job of telling its suspenseful story. You care about the characters, even the sociopath. You hold out until the end, because you want to know just as badly as the husband, what happened to his wife.

And you find out, probably much to your chagrin. And then the movie is over. When I saw it, the folks leaving the theatre were exchanging looks of disbelief. In a fit of gallows humor, I chuckled to myself, and said to my girlfriend, "How can you end a movie that way?"

Suffice to say that this movie will probably never leave your memory. But that's not the worst part. The worst part is that sociopaths like the character in this movie do indeed exist in real life, and they do walk among us.
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How powerful is this movie? You don't even need to see it to be disturbed by it.
Irie21222 August 2009
I saw it with a friend when it was released. Then I went home and told my husband about it, and how impressed I was. He's not much of a moviegoer, but he's certainly sensitive to film: His favorites are The Third Man, Maltese Falcon, The Conversation-- all biggies. And when I rented "My Life as a Dog" and he started to watch it with me, he had to leave the room after the first ten minutes or so, saying, "This movie is going to be much too sad." Which, if you've seen that Lasse Hallstrom film, you know he pegged it.

Anyway, he asked about the plot of "The Vanishing." I told him, he listened, and that was the end of it. Or so I thought.

We're at a dinner party later that week, and I mention the movie. Someone asks about it, I start to describe it-- and my husband stops me. He says, "It's too disturbing to even hear the plot again."

I never mentioned it again. Nor have I watched it again, and don't think I ever could. But I am forever glad that I saw it that first time. A gripping story that demands more emotion from the audience than almost any other film I can name.
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Modern Day Edgar Allen Poe tale
J. Wellington Peevis30 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers
According to Poe, without a traceable motive, anyone can commit murder with impunity. Thats what this movie documents. A sociopath who for an insane reason he's in his head concocted, plans and executes the perfect crime. His victim's lover refuses to give up on her disappearance, and begs the culprit for a private meeting, just so he may learn the truth. I cant think of a more successful development of a movie villain. The guy is plain evil, successfully living a double life that his family suspects, but is inclined to think of as a trivial extramarital fling. In France extramarital goings on, i assume Are trivial. You quickly loathe the man. He's rather hideous to look at, and his superior manner gets under your skin. Film is very well done, and the two hours is well paced. Understanding the murderers motives even upon revelation is somewhat confusing, and i dont think it was meant to be.
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Movie about a highly disturbing man
mads leonard holvik21 March 2004
George Sluizer has made a movie that moves slowly forward, giving the viewer clues that work as pointers to take us back and forth in time. Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu as Raymond Lemorne depicts a man who knows the difference between right and wrong, but when he is 16, looking down from his parents veranda 15 feet above ground, he asks himself this question: Where is it predestined that I will not jump? And then he has to jump. This highly disturbing way of thinking moves him in a different direction. We see in his every day life that he is a most normal man, he has two daughters, a good wife, a job as a chemistry teacher. But he is something else too. Is he evil? This is a very disturbing movie.
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Deeply upsetting and extremely disturbing
ellkew22 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Whenever any conversation about creepy films comes up I always mention this one. Those who have seen it scream 'That film is incredible!' while the rest want to know the plot. Well the plot is very simple but even so undeniably intriguing. A couple stop at a petrol station and she goes in to get coffee. She never comes out. That's it. What then happens it that we see the third person involved in her fate and this is why the film really gets under your skin. It's the sheer normality of this character who constantly has to push himself, test himself to see how far he can go. This is the only film I have ever watched which has actually given me a sleepless night. I ended up pacing the flat unable to forget about the fate of the characters in my head. Unusual yes but this film really does give one nightmares. I saw it in 1991 and I have not seen it since. I don't particularly want to because I can still remember it vividly 16 years later. It really does not get any more effective than this. A real gem but keep it at arms length. It's a killer.
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A brilliant psycho drama, already a classic!
AngryChair21 March 2008
George Sluizer's magnificent European thriller remains as intelligent and haunting today as ever.

While traveling across Europe, a couple stops at a service station where the woman disappears without a trace. Her boyfriend embarks on a desperate three year search hoping to learn who abducted her. In the meantime however we are introduced to the strange character of a gentle family man - who turns out to be the sly madman responsible.

The Vanishing is one of the smartest and most chilling thrillers of modern cinema. It doesn't resort to violence, clichés, or conventional plot lines - but instead plays out its intriguing mystery premise by establishing its characters and their personal struggles. From there it builds a compelling plot of growing tension that escalates to a finale that is absolutely chilling and powerful. The conclusion is one of the most bold movie endings ever. Sluizer's direction is wonderfully stylish, using the lovely French locations to their full effect. Henny Vrienten's music score is nicely atmospheric and adds a perfect touch to the film's slick cinematography.

The cast is another great highlight. Gene Bervoets does a dynamic performance as the man who struggles with his obsession to learn the fate of his missing girlfriend. Johanna ter Steege is captivating as the lost love of Bervoets. However the show is truly stolen by Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu. Donnadieu is one of the most charismatic and fascinating villain characters ever. He's frightening, not for the typical reasons, but because he plays a weirdly heart-felt character that seems as normal as anyone. A real feat indeed.

The Vanishing is a film that all horror/thriller fans should see. It's an outstanding modern genre classic that isn't only tasteful and gripping, but strikingly smart too.

George Sluizer also directed an American remake in 1993, to much less effect.

**** out of ****
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Scientific scrutiny of existentialistic question
anderzzz-17 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
With this strange title, you may wonder if I really have seen the same film as the other commentators, who focus on the scary side of this film. I am the first to acknowledge this side of the film as well, where the scary aspects are created by the actual story, not an excessive use of gore. But the film contains a philosophical depth, which I chose to focus on here, hence the odd title.

The film starts with a prologue, which as climax has the disappearance of the female in a young Dutch couple on vacation in France. The film then goes back in time, and we follow a French man and his odd behaviour (testing how long he is kept drugged by some chemical of certain volume, how well screams are heard from his house on the countryside by scaring his daugther with spiders, how he optimally should invite someone into his car, and even learning some English phrases with this purpose in mind). It is obvious that this man, for some unclear reason, want to kidnap a woman by drugging her in his car, and after several failures, we reach the point where the Dutch woman from the prologue is kidnapped by this French man.

Then starts the third and final part of the film, where the kidnapper and the man from the Dutch couple, who want to know what happened to his girlfriend, eventually meet. In a car ride back to France, the two men talk and the purpose is revealed. The kidnapper is a man who want to know if he is able to perform the most gruesome act (in his opinion) to another person. Is he able to do evil? And he performs his inquire using the scientific method, that is, formulating a hypothesis, preparing and collecting data and then doing the "experiment" to confirm or reject the hypothesis. His preparations, described above, were hence not training in order to do the act effectively, instead they were part of the scientific scrutiny, the empirical data.

The question "can I do the ultimate evil", is a variant of the existentialistic question, which (I think) Sartre was the first to point out, namely the fear we feel for our own freedom. Say when we walk over a bridge we feel scared by our knowledge that if we want, we could throw ourselves over the bridge and kill ourselves. We therefore tend to mentally put false restraints on our freedom, and rarely do a sane person follow the sudden impulse to find out the answer to whether we are able to do this. But not the kidnapper, who when he suddenly is faced with the question "can I do the ultimate evil", he proceeds to answer it scientifically. This is the unpassionate purpose of the kidnapping. The Dutch man is faced with another philosophical question with more passionate meaning towards the end, but that's another side of the film, which I do not comment on here.

So finally, what is the gruesome act? Lets say that when we learn in passing that the kidnapper has extreme claustrophobia and therefore is allowed to ride a car without seat belt, well then we get a clue...

A very good film! Scary, with depth and it gives the audience a lot to think about, and the actor who plays the kidnapper does so very convincingly.
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God Almighty! That was Horrifying!
Richard Wheeler6 November 2009
Good Lord! God help those two who were kidnapped. When one's loved-one goes missing it's sure of a worry, that worry which will worry us until we go looking for them. We wonder, what happened to him/her, where did they go, who kidnapped him/her?! How can one trust sweet strangers (when in fact they are vile predators)?! This reminded ,me of a girl which my Dad knew named Roselind Ballingal who went missing in the summer of 1969! He walked into the Knysna Forest and never came back! What we saw in the movie happened to Roselind?!? No one knows but everyone presumes she is dead. But how did she die?

You know, you get sick people out there and they first come across as friendly and then they lead you to your grave. One thing to remember is, to not obsess! Obsession is extremely dangerous when it becomes like this. It's so disturbing, I've feared about being buried alive and one cannot tell who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist. It's very common in modern films. Jees! Thinking about this gives me the heebie-geebies. Let me remind you all, do not obsess!
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Everything it should be (Spoilers)
ColeSear31 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This film exemplifies many things I like to see in films but rarely get enough of. Often times in Hollywood films we get interesting concepts that never live up to their full potential. In The Vanishing we get a film that forgoes cheap thrills and pace to examine the characters involved in a very thought-provoking way and it manages to achieve a greater level of creepiness than most American films would. After having first watched this film I was looking around in all directions as I walked around and here's why. One of the first things that strikes you is the music. There's a deep base bottom and it doesn't overly-anticipate the moment but still highlights the film with an overtone of foreboding which is just magnificent. And as this word could apply to the film as a whole it is especially significant in the antagonist; subtlety. Played by Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Raymond Lemorne is a great villain because he's believable, well defined and most frighteningly in the end we even understand him and worse yet he seems real.

Another thing this film has going for it is the way the film isn't told chronologically. We first see the vanishing and the desperate search in the first few hours, then we are introduced to Lemorn, peg him as the man, see his routine and see that three years have gone by. All through out the film we will skip through time for large periods. The disappearance of Saskia will be filled in over and over again until the actual events are seen through their entirety. And the last piece only falls into place at the very end. Amazingly, with this unusual structure the film is not hard to follow in the least and certainly much more intriguing then the conventional linear plot we're used to seeing in the United States. The 'reality' of these events are set up in many way by director George Sluizer. Firstly there was great used of subjective camera and the 'Zero Degree Style' common in the States is completely abandoned. The other touches of reality come as we delve into the two main characters: Rex and Raymond. Raymond, the criminal, is first only seen in a very one dimensional manner. We see him a s a fraud who seems to be scoping out the store for possible victims. Then later in the story we see him begin to formulate his plan, to perfect it over and over again. The one scene where we see him as a biology teacher is just enough to show us that these people could be anyone and can fool you so easily. There is also the scene where Rex is waiting for him at the restaurant. Rex says he's waiting for Mr. Montmejan and that happens to the waiter's name. The commonness of the name adds profound statement about the plausibility of the plot. The tension of the film is also aided by McGuffins, or botched attempts by the professor. In one scene we see him pick up a young girl, we know already that him locking the door is where he makes his move and poisons the girl but it's his daughter. He also runs into a former student of his and tried to get her in his car and we see a chilling example of how he may have escaped justice for so long for even when someone calls him on it their content to just get away. There's also the scene where Raymond is out of focus in the background as Rex looks around for him. This is also another great scene of anticipation.

Rex's relationship with Lieneke and also his quest are also quite believable. He reaches a point where all he seeks to know is the truth. The Vanishing is also greatly helped by some really good dialogue. The image of the Golden Egg as related by Saskia through her dream sort of predestines the film in a way as we'll see they both have the same fate, however, that is not a fault of the film. I firmly believe that there are only so many ways a story can end and it's not how it ends that always matters but how you got there. The Vanishing is a toned down psychological-thriller that'll get under your skin. It's a film that's had my imagination captive for a week. It's not only a prime example of a psycho-thriller but also of well-structured and executed character studies. It's a great achievement.
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Sorry guys, but I have a problem with the hype on this one
gregory-joulin19 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
*** Spoilers ***

I saw this movie on DVD a few days ago, and I'm feeling confused, especially when I read so many good IMDb reviews about it.

I won't bother everyone talking about the permanent cheesy synthesizer's music, so fashionable during the eighties… as well as I won't complain about the bad pieces of dialog and acting, except for Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, who passed away a few months ago - rest in peace Bernard-Pierre. Those are flaws you can see on many small –or even big- budget movies.

No, actually I had a problem with buying the whole thing, even if I happen to believe I'm some kind of a good viewer - a movie can take me wherever it wants to; it's very easy to hypnotize me.

But I couldn't buy the idea of a lonely dude haunting almost every day the same highway gas station, looking for opportunities to abduct women (we know he goes there every day for his wife asks him about the significant number of kilometers rising daily on the car counter) without being noticed or pushed out.

I couldn't buy this absurd abduction sequence where a silly young woman jumps into Donnadieu's car, and gets neutralized by chloroform….in front of everybody.

I couldn't buy Donnadieu's tedious and vague explanations about his own behavior (something like: are you a true hero, if you prove you're able to do evil… Or something like that, I didn't really get it, and where does that come from anyway? Some 19th century psychiatric garbage?)

And to top it all, I couldn't buy the idea of a main character drinking a cup of drugged coffee *while being aware of it being drugged* because he wants to "know about everything and feel everything" concerning his girlfriend abduction, cup of coffee offered by the man who planned and operated the abduction! Come on man, go and find the cops! You've gathered enough information at this time for them to re-open the case and start to dig stuff up on Donnadieu's backyard!

And there's a couple more I'm too lazy to write about, but you got my drift, I guess.

To work as a good movie, I think a thriller has to follow up its own mechanic and logic, a bit like a swiss clock… Even if it tells a crazy or insane story, it will work just as long as it sticks to its inner rules.

No logic and coherence in this one, I'm afraid.
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The dry subject matter turns into the most horrific movie I have ever seen. Absolute genius.
baserock_love27 October 2011
This is not a token 10 out of ten to try and inflate the ratings for a movie I like. This is one of the few perfect movies I can honestly say I have ever seen.

I'm a huge horror fanatic and I put off seeing this despite it being recommended time and time again because the subject matter is so mundane. This move is the only horror move I have ever seen move that transcended scary to downright shocking to my very soul.

It was a very unique experience that no movie has ever duplicated before or since. Once it was over, i actually just sat there for about 10 minutes thinking about what I had just seen, it was only after pondering it for a bit that i realized that the pacing and just sheer implications of what i had just seen was probably the most disturbing and awful yet utterly brilliant and in a strange way beautiful thing I had ever seen because as others have stated, it couldn't have possibly ended any other way. The viewer won't want it to end any other way.

Through impeccable pacing and direction George Sluizer manipulates the viewer in a way I never thought could be possible, it would be criminal to spoil ANYTHING from this movie but I found myself in the same conundrum the protagonist Rex finds himself in at the ending and rooting something yet at the same time dreading to see it's result, but I must see. I can't think of any ending to any movie that was more fitting and a better conclusion than the ending of Spoorloos.

Fans of psychological horror, this more than anything is required viewing. I await the day that a film can make me feel the way this one did and frankly I doubt it will ever come.

Bravo, and shame on you George for the abysmal American and Americanized remake that absolutely ruined this movie for so many people I know. This movie is a masterpiece and half the people I know will never be able to enjoy it.
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The ultimate horror film
Cathy Young4 June 2000
I saw "The Vanishing" when it was first released in the U.S., and walked out of the theater completely stunned. It stayed with me for days afterwards. A few years later, I saw it once again on cable. While I think it's one of the best and most frightening psychological thrillers of all time, I don't think I could bear to see it again -- it is simply too intense and depressing. This film really gets in your head.

The plot is riveting in its simplicity, and the terrifying ending (which some have, incomprehensibly, criticized) follows logically, indeed inescapably, from the progression of the story. "The Vanishing" is a film about the banality of evil (illustrated by the character of Raymond Lenorme, well played by Bernard-Pierre Donadieux) and the power of obsession (Rex's quest to find out what happened to Saskia). It also poses an unanswerable question: which is the greater horror, never to know the truth about what happened to someone we love, or to know a truth that is too awful to contemplate? What would any of us have done?

The American remake is certainly "dumbed down" -- it's not really THAT bad, but it's simply an average Hollywood thriller. It opens up the airlessly tight structure of the original plot by making the hero's new girlfriend (who barely appears in the original) a major character and playing up the new romance, and of course there is a Hollywoodized ending. The French/Dutch original is the real thing.
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