Reely Bernie Horror Fest: The Vanishing (1988)

Origin/Director: Netherlands, France/George Sluizer

Viewings Tally: Although a few images and scenes seem familiar to me, this is my first viewing. I wonder if I saw glimpses of this movie as a kid in the 80s.

Synopsis: Rex and Saskia are enjoying a biking holiday in France when, stopping at a gas station, Saskia disappears.” [Letterboxd]

Reely Bernie’s Take: The obsession of Blow-Up (1966). The ambiguity of Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975). The helplessness of Breakdown (1997). The ending of Caché (2005). These four thrillers do not necessarily follow the same subject matter, but every single one of them came to mind while I was watching The Vanishing (1988) for the first time last night. These comparisons are nothing short of a commendation.

The Vanishing affirms its title in its raw, matter-of-fact unfolding of a man who loses his lover at a road trip service station and has to live with the emptiness of the unknown for years later. Director George Sluizer’s seamlessly captures the obsession of the search, ambiguity of what is seen and what is imagined, the helplessness of being the one-and-only searcher in a gigantic world, and an unforgiving ending that seems as brutal as it is inevitable.

To add a dab of horror to the mix, Sluizer focuses the camera on the curious actions of a possible kidnapping suspect, and this transition in perspective leaves the viewer just as powerless as the man who puts up “Who Has Seen This Woman?” posters for the rest of his life.

You say “thriller,” I say “horror.” Either way, this is quite an unsettling experience reserved for the only time I enjoy watching movies like these – October. This year, I’m trying to watch only horror movies I haven’t seen before. This one escaped me back in the day, but I must say that its deconstruction of a mystery is more riveting and realistic than anything you can find on Netflix right now.

The Shot that Won’t Let Go:

Haunting both as a foreshadow and denouement.

Final Score:

4 Innocent, round-faced antagonists out of 5

Have you seen The Vanishing? How about the remake in 1993, also directed by Sluizer?

9 thoughts on “Reely Bernie Horror Fest: The Vanishing (1988)

Add yours

  1. I need to watch 1988’s “The Vanishing”, as I’ve seen the 1993 remake with Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock. It was pretty good, also directed by Sluizer, and was filmed mostly in my home state of Washington. And also need to catch “Caché” now, as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’re flipped: I need to see the 1993 remake now. Great premise. I wonder how artistically close Sluizer’s remake was.. Love Washington state! I went to Gonzaga. We travelled all around. Gorgeous.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never seen this I don’t believe…but I want to know. Great review Bernie. Thrillers and horrors are on blurred lines sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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