Monday, December 21, 2009

The Vanishing: Well Rex Was Obviously Not a Student of Pai Mei's.

Well I've thought it over and over in my head and I've decided that the only way to talk about this movie is just to reveal well- everything about it. If you've seen Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments then you may remember that they too decided to reveal the ending so, fuck it I'm doing it. Other than being eaten by sharks- being buried alive is one of those things that sends me into an immediate panic attack. On a class field trip to New York City my junior year of high school, I almost had died while watching the end of Aida. During one of the CSI finales- where Nick Stokes was buried alive- I started crying (Yes maybe partially because I was in LOVE with Nick Stokes but whatever, still traumatizing), and during Kill Bill Vol. 2 well yeah...even though that one did allay my fears a bit by proving that there IS sort of a way out, but never mind never mind. It just may be the ultimate worst way to die. How can you not immediately put yourself in that situation and imagine what it would be like to just lay there until you die. I'm having trouble breathing now just thinking about it! So without further ado, I present to you the very traumatic albeit slightly boring but extremely meaningful movie The Vanishing.

On a trip through France, Rex and Saskia stop at a rest area. After a trip to buy sodas however, Saskia does not return and after a tiring search Rex is desperate for answers. Now 3 years have passed and Saskia still has not returned. But after being contacted by a seemingly normal man named Raymond- Rex finds that he will very soon know and understand what happened to Saskia those 3 years ago, as Raymond promises to show him. What Rex finds however is an agonizing and downright awful truth.

First off I found myself liking this movie more and more as it progressed onward. At first I was wary of it's pace and found it a little too slow for comfort. But because of the way it's framed- the story of Rex and Saskia then the same timeline goes back and is told from the point of view of Raymond - it all becomes rather interesting. I love movies where pieces start fitting together and moments just have you exclaiming "Oooh!" over and over again. The constant foreshadowing employed in the beginning is also quite nice to see, Saskia's "golden egg" dream, Saskia being abandoned by Rex, Saskia and Rex burying coins under the tree- it's all so symbolic and just completely comes full circle by the end.

I do find my interest waning somewhat during the parts 3 years into the future where Rex is just wandering around the country still looking for Saskia. He even had a girlfriend at that point- and it's a wonder that he ever considered dating with his fiery obsession. Things do get back on track when Raymond's story is told and we come to realize that this man is very very strange and complex. When he is in the car with Rex and telling him his story he calls himself a Sociopath- and we get a few instances of this from his childhood and his adult life. We still wonder during this entire time however- just how much of a sociopath he really is. What has he done to Saskia? As the story progresses on and if you've never seen Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments I can imagine that question is with you right until the final reveal. That last scene of Rex in his underground coffin and how the shot pans back up to Raymond enjoying a nice afternoon with his family presumably right where Rex and Saskia are buried is pretty amazing.

I guess knowing the ending isn't really all that important now that I think of it- because what is truly remarkable about this film is the way that the story is told- and how we get to the ending and how we understand just how we got there in the first place. I still don't really understand Raymond's sociopathic tendencies or why he chooses that way to kill his victims but I suppose that makes him all the more scarier. The creepiest and most terrifying kind of killers are the ones you don't expect, the ones that have families, and the ones that appear to be normal.

So basically I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. The ending is the scariest part yes- and the most traumatizing but stylistically there is definitely something to be treasured here. The story is told very well and I loved getting the two different point of views. The movie is also based on the story by Tim Krabbe called the Golden Egg which is a reference to Saskia's dream where she dreams that she is alone and abandoned, trapped inside a golden egg. Of course it is not until that final reel that we are presented with the literal golden egg- and what the true meaning of being abandoned, alone and terrified really means.

So yes I am recommending this one as it has possibly one of the most torturous scenes in film history at the end- that even movies like Hostel and Saw wish they could pull off. It just proves that you don't need sharp implements of pain, buckets of blood and brains to accomplish pure and insane torture of the mind. The Vanishing also just became available on Netflix instant watch so get on it!

6 comments:

Igor said...

I saw this, albeit a remake. Creepy, particularly if you are a claustrophobe.

Speaking of - hate to burst your bubble, but Mythbusters proved the Kill Bill coffin escape was physically impossible. A one inch punch is not enough to break the wood of the coffin with that much dirt adding pressure to the other side. Even if you do splinter the wood, the dirt will fill the coffin as you attempt to make an escape. Also, you have precious little air to begin with.

Personally I am more frightened of death by radiation poisoning. Just mutating until my body can no longer deal with it and I expire. That is truly disturbing to me.

Andre said...

Hahah! I figured it wasn't possible due to the alarming rate at which she crawled through the dirt! Oh well I can still pretend there will be some hope for me if this should ever happen..

Radiation poisoning.. bleck! That is disturbing you've upped my worst fears to 3!

Igor said...

I suggest working on our teleportation abilities. *bamf*

-Chris Bennett- said...

Hey, great post. The CSI that you mentioned up front was guest Directed by Quentin Tarantino, if I'm not mistaken. Just so you know...

So as far as Kill Bill, maybe Tarantino is, as well, afraid of being buried alive...

Andre said...

I did know that Chris, I remember when I was watching it I was also in my Quentin Tarrantino stage and felt like a real bad ass. It is funny though that he does seem to have an infutation with the buried alive scenes....Maybe it's a metaphor for his life? Hah jk I'm hungry and my mind thinks crazy things...never mind.

brian said...

haven't seen this original, but the ending alone is better than the american remake with kiefer sutherland