A horror mystery and supernatural thriller, Vanishing on 7th Street (2010) shows a post-apocalyptic vision of Detroit, where it seems that an entire city has been abandoned. A hospital full of patients now a void, movie theatres packed are suddenly empty and the busy downtown streets of Detroit are silent. Cars have crashed into each other with no drivers and planes come crushing down with no pilots or passengers. All that remains are the clothes. When civilisation is wiped out by a virus, zombies or extra-terrestrials, director Brad Anderson shows that with the intensity of silence, suspense and the fear of darkness can create an atmospheric post-apocalyptic horror.
Among the debris of vacant cars, rubble of clothes and empty sky scrapers, a few stragglers remain. A physical therapist called Rosemary (Thandie Newton), who finds herself completely alone at work, is now on a desperate mission to find her missing baby. A distraught and wounded cinema projectionist named Paul (John Leguizamo) finds himself bleeding under a bus shelter. Twelve year old James Leary (Jacob Latimore) is left alone in a tavern waiting for his mother, and finally a television reporter called Luke Ryder (Hayden Christensen) who unwillingly becomes the leader of the group. As the remaining survivors stumble into a bar on 7th street, they have to work together to keep the bar’s electrical generator running. However as the survivors mental status comes into question, something in the darkness lurks and hovers closer.
Vanishing On 7th Street certainly does know how to build up a great amount of tension and suspense with the eerie darkness that creeps closer to our survivors but the film doesn't hold up for much longer. For a post-apocalyptic film it should have a message about humanity or the destructive direction we are heading to. If we look at George A. Romero's post-apocalyptic zombie horrors, Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys (1995), John Hillcoat’s The Road (2009) or even Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (2002), each film not only portrays a world that is devastated by nuclear war, a global cataclysm or a virus but a destroyed world with civilisation on the brick on extinction and provides a terrifying insight into humanity and how society would tear itself apart. 7th Street failed to deliver a message into humanity or give any indication of what the film was focusing on, apart from survival. This independent low budget film does have a brilliant horror atmosphere with the creepy shadows whispering, lurking in the blackness and grabbing anyone who lingers astray from the light and into the darkness. Never seeing the figures gives a more profound effect on the viewers when they themselves have to imagine what is in the darkness.
The film certainly does end on an exceedingly unsatisfied and ambiguous finish but Brad Anderson’s abstractness and unique style created a great horror for the first half of the film. No film has ever made silence seem more unsettling and eerie. With no gore, monsters or virus, Anderson used only shadows and whispers to terrify his viewers.