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!