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Critics reviews
The Vanishing
George Sluizer Netherlands, 1988
What’s so upsetting about Rex’s moment of awakening in the brilliantly filmed climax (which Denis Villeneuve ripped off in Prisoners, for the record) is not that it’s a surprise but that it feels so inevitable. In a nice mix of literal and figurative meaning, Rex’s plight is inescapable. He wanted closure, and he gets it — and so does the audience, whose own yearning is implicated in his fate.
September 05, 2018
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It’s wickedly smart: it demonstrates that if a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, a lot of knowledge can be fatal. In this excerpt from our interview with Sluizer, which you can watch on the Channel along with the film (and also on our release), he says he builds suspense by toying with what the characters know and don’t know as well as the playful use of objects and the skillful deployment of extras to keep us guessing about just what’s important—his own extension of Hitchcock’s legacy.
November 11, 2016
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Building suspense in a non-traditional way, the audience is handed all the evidence at face value and is challenged to interpret it while following along with the narrative. Cerebral rather than visceral, the film creeps under your skin and offers a unique and as of yet, unreplicated, cinematic experience in dread.
October 31, 2016
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I can highly recommend both versions of the film, in whatever order, if you haven’t seen either one; but if you’ve seen only the original, I would urge you to check out the remake as well.
December 19, 2014
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It is a film that lingers long after the lights have come up, seeps into your dreams, and remains upon waking. Like a dark, mythic fable, it is deceptively simple in design, complex in its resonances, and timeless in its queasy appeal.
October 29, 2014
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The Vanishing burrows deep into that maddening epistemic void. It’s a horror movie of a very unique sort, in which the killer is less terrifying than is the absence of information… The film takes its sweet, creepy time instilling the need to know, then fulfills that need in the bleakest, most terminal way imaginable. It’s as cruel as life.
October 29, 2014
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George Sluizer’s film is structured as a mystery-thriller, but there’s ultimately very little mystery and few conventional thrills, and so the blunt, dead-stop of the anti-climax subsequently carries an implicatively existential weight. The narrative’s refusal to provide any catharsis, either terrible or joyous, carries a hint of perversity that appears to point toward godlessness, if not of proper life, then at least of cinema.
October 28, 2014
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One of the great things about The Vanishing is how intricately Sluizer and his co-writer Tim Krabbe (who authored the novel on which The Vanishing’s script was based) develop their characters… Like few other genre films before or since, The Vanishing finds manages to be satisfyingly unsatisfying. It hits the spot—and the nerve.
October 31, 2012
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George Sluizer’s thriller about a man’s obsessive search for his girlfriend after her mysterious disappearance during their vacation is often compared to Hitchcock’s disappearance thrillers… A more apt comparison would be Henri-Georges Clouzot, with its cold, calculating fatalism and bitter twist ending… Eventually they meet, and the mystery of the girlfriend’s vanishing is revealed, leading to one of the most depressing endings in movie history.
December 03, 2007
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Sluizer doesn’t really add anything, he just makes a competent and careful job of transferring what’s on the page onto the screen, and if the film is visually flat, that hasn’t stopped it having a long-lasting effect upon just about everybody who’s seen it… There are plenty of great psychological thrillers, but very few that also fascinate on the philosophical level – which is maybe why the final twist in Spoorloos resonates so strongly, and for so very long.
March 23, 2004
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It may be that The Vanishing is a one-off: a film so original, so effective, so surprising and so ruthless that it represents a single, perfect coming-together of director, writer, subject, and cast. It delivers a shattering twist ending, but has a depth and lasting creepiness that makes it repay repeat viewings.
September 17, 2001
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