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Vanishing, The (1993)USA 1993
Directed by George Sluizer
Running time 103 minutes
There is nothing new in Hollywood trashing artistically successful European films but The Vanishing is noteworthy, even infamous, because the director of this universally disparaged retread was also the director of the brilliant 1988 original of the same name.
What made the original film so effective was that it steadfastly adhered to the banality of its subjects’ lives, thus making the horror more believable and memorably disturbing. The new version which was scripted not by the author of the novel on which it was based as was original film but by Todd Graff, a writer whose credits you will never had heard of, and that cost ten times more to make than the original, manages to travesty every quality of that film even to the point of adding ten minutes to make sure that the stunningly blunt, acathartic ending of the original is pulverized into the standard Hollywood triumph of good over evil – in other words the exact opposite of the original film.
This time the young holidaying couple, now called Jeff and Diane, are played by Keifer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock, and the sociopath by Jeff Bridges, with Nancy Travis playing the fourth character, Jeff’s new girlfriend who in the original film had only a small part in proceedings but who is here elevated to the saviour of the day.
Bridges who seems to have been coiffed by Gene Wilder’s hair stylist and who sports a generic and entirely irrelevant Northern European accent that comes and goes, gives one of the worst performances of his career and whilst Sutherland is not an actor with whom I am familiar he has not a jot of the credibility of his forbear. But then nothing about this film does, Sluizer for some inexplicable reason foregoing the slow build of his first attempt and starting off with the abductor’s story, thus destroying the mounting apprehension which was capped off by the stunning ending. In its place we get a stock-standard Hollywood get-out and a bathetically corny joke.
If Sluizer was on a mission to sabotage his masterpiece he did a thorough job of it.