It is fitting to return to this classic foreign film from the 80s, especially when it seems that a horror film opens every Friday to mega box office numbers. The Vanishing is not a film like Silent Hill, Saw, and all the others, but it is a punishing piece of scary stuff, and what makes it so scary is the last five minutes or so. This is not a Wes Craven like film, instead this is the return of Hitchcock and return he does.
The film opens with us focusing on the couple sitting next to the pine tree and they dominate the screen space for around 20 minutes, but there are inklings that things are not going to go well for the couple, including the running out of gas in the middle of one of those long, long tunnels that barrels through the Alps.
I am not giving anything away when I say that one of the two happy folks in the picture disappears. It then becomes the obsession of the other to discover what happened. And this obsession lasts for three years.
What makes the film so cool, at least in my mind, is the temporal narrative shift that occurs 25 minutes in. We then go backwards in time (although we don't know it at first) and catch up with all the actions of the villain who plans the abduction down to a T.
This is not a film that moves rapidly. It is a movie that takes its time in developing character and in doing so it builds suspense and tension.
A brilliant film and in need of more attention than it currently gets.