31 Days of Halloween 23 – The Vanishing is about knowledge
Ironically, I got the years all mixed up for The Vanishing (1988), a film about knowledge. This thriller was originally a novel by Tim Krabbe, then was broadcast on BBC radio in the 80s. Afterwards, it was made into a film in 1988 and remade for English audiences in 1993. The Vanishing is essentially about a man’s obsession over his girlfriend’s disappearance, which happened suddenly and without explanation.
If I didn’t explain the ending to this movie here in this review, would you look it up? I guess a good majority of people wouldn’t really care, but some might look it up. If that’s the case, why do they look it up? The same reason Rex needs to know what happened to his girlfriend, Saskia, in the movie. He needs to know. Do you need to know what happened to her? Maybe I won’t tell you.
A funny thing is, we meet the kidnapper in the movie, and he says exactly the same thing. Maybe I won’t tell you. Rex has no proof that Raymond kidnapped Saskia, so after three years of searching for her, only Raymond can reveal the truth. Rex needs that knowledge. He can’t move on with his life and we’re shown how he’s literally unable to function day to day without thinking about Saskia.
Another funny thing is, Raymond is an ordinary guy. He’s a husband, not a loner. He’s a family man with a daughter, not a drifter. As Rex himself admits, Raymond is very intelligent and a perfectionist. He’s also a bit of a psycho. He doesn’t seem like a psycho, but he is.
As much as Rex is obsessed with Saskia’s fate, Raymond is obsessed with his psychotic nature, a practiced ability to cause evil. He likes thinking about a problem or a situation like a puzzle, but his puzzle is how to kidnap an innocent woman he’s never met before. So he works out a plan and stakes out the perfect place to find someone to fit his plan. His motivation for the crime is that he realized he was a psychopath and wanted to do it.
We are introduced to Saskia and Rex on vacation, and have some character moments, then as Raymond is inserted into the movie, we meet him too. Some flashback’s tell Raymond’s story and we get a few character moments that are pretty nice. Nothing lengthy and melodramatic, just short snippets of his life. The characters then come together at a gas station, where Rex and Saskia have stopped. Saskia goes inside to buy drinks and disappears, never coming outside and back to Rex. He freaks out. Later on in the movie, we learn that Raymond was waiting for her inside, in a cold, calculated manner.
Right now, you have the knowledge Rex had in the movie, albeit summarized. So what happened to Saskia? Do you feel any anxiety that you lack the truth? Is she dead? Alive? Smothered? Stabbed? In another country? Maybe I’m a jackass and you want to stop reading this crap, but don’t lash out at me. You want knowledge, and that’s only natural. It’s the same reason millions of people watched the Avengers 2 trailer this week.
Amazingly enough, the movie doesn’t stop at the mystery of Saskia’s disappearance. There are loads of metaphors, analogies, and a small side story that emphasizes Rex’s character flaws. It’s really only a single scene, but it emphasizes that he can’t get past Saskia’s disappearance and never will.
All in all, this is one awesome movie. The original 1988 Vanishing is the best version of this story to see. It has subtitles and is easy to follow. Gene Bervoets as Rex pretty much sells this film all by himself, and Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu as Raymond sorta makes Norman Bates look silly. The movie doles out the information slowly, and reveals everything at the end, like a true thriller. Every single critic on RottenTomatoes has praised this film, including Roger Ebert in 1991.
As for you, I encourage you to seek out this movie. It can answer your nagging questions, like Rex had in the movie. Fortunately for you, there is Wikipedia, not that I encourage it. If only Rex had the same choice.
31 Days of Halloween Movie Marathon
1 – Frankenstein and the Monster from HELL (1974)
2 – Dracula has risen from the grave (1968)
3 – The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)
4 – Evil Dead II (1987)
5 – Dawn of the Dead (1978)
6 – Les Diaboliques (1955)
7 – The Howling (1981)
8 – Friday the 13th (1980)
9 – Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
10 – Hellraiser (1987)
11 – Let the Right One in (2008)
12 – Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1984)
13 – House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
14 – The Strangers (2008)
15 – The House of the Devil (2009)
16 – Psycho (1960)
17 – The Orphanage (2007)
18 – The Amityville Horror (1979)
19 – The Raven (1963)
20 – Blue Velvet (1986)
21 – Repulsion (1965)
22 – Dementia 13 (1963)
23 – The Vanishing (2008)
24 – Halloween (1978)
25 – Shaun of the Dead (2004)
26 – The Silence of the Lambs (1988)
27 – An American Werewolf in London (1981)
28 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
29 – The Exorcist (1973)
30 – The Ring (2002)
31 – Night of the Living Dead (1968)