HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Two – 10/02/18

10/02 – 1988: THE VANISHING

It was another banner year for horror aficionados, in which several strong sequels took their bow and launched mainstay franchises, including PHANTASM II and HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2. In fact, British director Bernard Rose, who would go on to direct one of the most celebrated movies based on Clive Barker’s work, CANDYMAN, took his bow in the genre with the wildly imaginative and deeply unsettling PAPERHOUSE.

But it was late Dutch director GEORGE SLUIZER, who would deliver the most shattering blow to audience sensibilities, with his unforgettable psychological chiller, THE VANISHING. And he achieved it without spilling a single drop of blood on-screen.

The chilling story begins with a road trip, during which a bickering couple, Rex (GENE BERVOETS) and Saskia (JOHANNA TER STEEGE), take a break from the snarking and sniping to stop at a gas station convenience store, at a point where it seems that their argument might be on the verge of some kind of positive resolution. But then Saskia goes into the store for drinks…and never returns.

Years pass after Saskia’s disappearance, but Rex has managed to do everything except let it go. Then, a mysterious man named Raymond Lemorne (BERNARD-PIERRE DONNADIEU) introduces himself, and intimates to Rex that he knows exactly what happened to her. But if Rex wants to find out what happened to his former lady love, he can’t ask any questions…Raymond insists that he must trust him, and just do whatever he says, in order to finally have the answer he’s been seeking.

Sounds absolutely fucking nuts, doesn’t it? Wait until you see the ending.

THE VANISHING has rightfully gained more stature, respect and a devoted following since its release than most films deemed “arthouse fare.” Sluizer “out-Hitchcocked” Hitchcock with this one. The script does such a brilliant job with its exploration of loss, grief, obsession and the frighteningly banal face that true evil can wear, that you don’t even realize that it’s in a different language (the subtitles are there, but you may be too busy cringing at that notorious ending to notice.) A psychological suspense classic that fans will hopefully continue to discover and re-discover for many, many more years to come.

Posted by Samuel Glass

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