Director – George Sluizer
Cast – Gene Bervoets, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Johanna ter Steege, Gwen Eckhaus, Bernadette Le Saché, Tania Latarjet, Lucille Glenn, Roger Souza
Release Year – 1988
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I have a confession to make, The Vanishing is not so much a “horror” film as some of you who have not seen this watch may think it to be. I went into this flick expecting it to be a horror film, but I was mistaken and was given something different than I expected. So why the review then? Well, simply because this film focuses on a superb killer(we have tons of such killer horror films), and watching just how cunning and truly diabolical this killer is gives us scenes that are truly scary in their own right, warranting a review from me. My blog, my rules, and this film meets my criteria. The object of the film is not to scare outright, but to leave the viewer with an ugly feeling watching this killer do what he does, and in all actuality I will say that in this case it is even better than a “scary” movie.
Based on the novel “The Golden Egg” from Tim Krabbe(who served as screenwriter for the film), we get a truly awesome story that takes its time and delivers some truly haunting moments. We have seen kidnapping films before, but this one takes a different approach to the kidnapping in telling us what happened in a series of flashbacks with a fair mix of present-time scenes as well. Basically, we are not shown how Saskia was kidnapped until very late in the film, and we are not shown what happened to Saskia after the kidnapping even later into the film, a genius idea from Tim Krabbe that kept me engaged throughout. This idea helps keep the viewer’s attention fully-focused on the screen before them, which comes heavily complimented by great character work from both Rex and the abductor, Raymond Lemorne. We watch the trauma and turmoil Rex faces as he deals with the fact that he may never know what happened to Saskia, and things seem to improve when he finally is given the opportunity to see what happened to his one true love, which of course comes with some heavy and unforeseen consequences. Rex knows that he is making a deal with the devil, and despite him telling himself that he will not give Raymond Lemorne what he wants, he must know what happened to Saskia, he must know what Saskia went through, and it does get the better of him.
Despite this film being about Rex, Raymond Lemorne steals the show. I will honestly say that Mr. Lemorne is one of the greatest killers I have ever witnessed on film. Watching him calculate the perfect abduction is mind boggling; we see him recording stats regarding the time it takes to get here and there, how long the person will be unconscious from his serum(which looks like chloroform), and other madly obsessive elements such as how he will portray an injured man needing help with something. Actor Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu does a fantastic job the role of Raymond Lemorne, giving us a calculating yet very cunning and mild-mannered family man who shows no signs whatsoever of being a killer. On the contrary, the scenes we do get involving Raymond as a killer are top-notch and we see just how brash and mentally tarnished this man is. He is determined to acquire the utmost hell from his victims, and he gets just that. Simply put, this character is incredibly well-written and very well acted.
Director George Sluizer(who also directed the 1993 remake) does a superb job with the film’s execution, which comes in equally responsible for how well the film’s characters were used. He gets great performances from everyone involved, and his camerawork and musical score sell the film to the viewer’s senses. The film’s pacing is very well done, which comes surprising given this is a 106 minute film that takes its time, proving Mr. Sluizer had to really execute this film well to keep the viewer’s attention, and he does just that. As far as kills go there is not much to write on the matter, merely because we really do not see Raymond actually kill anyone, which goes in part with the strong mystery element of the storyline. The film’s climax does include what appears to be a kill-sequence, which is one of the most gut-wrenching scenes I have ever seen, a final sequence that the entire film built up to, a sequence you will never forget.
Overall, this is an incredible film that delivers a tremendous story bringing us one of the greatest killers to ever grace the screen. We get solid performances from everyone involved, as well as great direction and execution, but it is the story that sells this film, and leaves you with painful memories thanks to the desperation of healing old wounds.