The Vanishing (1988)

the vanishing poster 1988 movie dutch
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Totally different approach to a horror-thriller

Not much

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Vanishing

Studio:   Golden Eggs Films

Genre(s):   Mystery/Suspense/Horror

Release Date(s):   October 27, 1988

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

the vanishing johanna ter steege gene bervoets

Nothing could ruin this vacation…unless you get kidnapped by a psychopath

Rex (Gene Bervoets) and Saskia (Johanna ter Steege) have a vacation planned in France, and despite a rocky start, the vacation appears to be a perfect getaway.  When Saskia disappears at a truck stop, Rex cannot get passed it.  Despite the years passing, Rex still seeks to know what happened to Saskia and will stop at nothing to know.  When he is contacted by a man named Raymond Lemorne (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu), Rex might find the truth at a price.

Directed by George Sluizer, The Vanishing (Spoorloos which translates as Traceless) is a film from a Dutch-French collaboration.  It adapts the 1984 novel The Golden Egg (Het Gouden Ei) by Tim Krabbé who helped write the screenplay with Sluizer.  The film was critically well received and the Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #133).

The Vanishing takes a different approach to the missing person story.  Normally, there is a mystery, a crazy killer, and a brave hero who saves the day…the pieces are all in The Vanishing but the outcome is different.  The Vanishing is a different type of thriller that becomes horrific.

the vanishing 1988 killer bernard pierre donnadieu gene bervoets

Soooo….bummer I took your girlfriend. We cool?

What happened to Saskia begins to override the story.  It isn’t if she’s alive, and it isn’t who killed her (the viewer already knew).  Raymond and Rex begin a weird cat-and-mouse game which doesn’t involve police.  Rex is obviously walking into a trap…he knows it, but the quest for knowledge and resolution forces him to do it.  It is a strange trip.

The cast is good.  Johanna ter Steege is solid as the girlfriend who really does light up the screen.  She is also caught in an unfortunate trap (like many who are the victims of crime) never thought possible.  Gene Bervoets also is solid as Saskia’s boyfriend who can’t move on and also pays the price.  The scene-stealer has to be Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu whose creepy sociopath serial killer just enjoys playing the game.

the vanishing 1988 buried alive ending gene bervoets

I think you’ve made a big mistake…

The movie is also shot with a great sense of dread.  Moments like the dark tunnel at the beginning of the film and the classic ending really show horror.  Plus, I enjoy the editing of the film and how it tells how the story unfolded on both sides of kidnapping…a bit of a Rashomon type telling, but both tellings of the story are honest and not bias.

The Vanishing is a solid thriller and there is something rather terrifying about it.  The movie’s ending is ominous and not very “American” in that sense.  It was remade in America as The Vanishing in 1993 with Kiefer Sutherland, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, and Nancy Travis but the ending was altered…and the film wasn’t well received.  Don’t see the remake, take the time and see the original.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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