Movie Title: Spoorloos / The Vanishing
Release Date: October 27th, 1988 (Netherlands)
Date Seen: June 19th, 2012
Part 1 – Spoiler Free Quickie Review
I know there was an American adaptation of this – but I always prefer (if possible) to watch the first adaptation, or in case of remakes – the original, etc. I also had read that this version is significantly better than the 1993 adaptation. Let me just say – I believe them. I haven’t even seen the American version, but I can’t think of it being anywhere near as good as this film. This movie was AWESOME. It had my heart pounding so hard and kept me guessing until the end. The way the story is told (flashbacks, that you can’t really tell are flashbacks mixed with real time) is done fabulously. You get to see the development of the kidnapper which is one of my favorite parts. I HIGHLY recommend you watch this movie.
Part 2 – In Depth Spoiler Ridden Review
Characters (the main ones):
Rex Hofman – Gene Bervoets – Rex is the man who we mainly follow in the story. His girlfriend disappears and then he spends the next three years searching (obsessing?) over finding out what happened to her. Bervoets was a great actor, having never seen him before.
Raymond – Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu – The kidnapper – so disturbingly creepy because he does look just like your normal everyday nice man. You actually really like him, beyond the fact that he’s a kidnapper. Really stupid – but I kept noticing his facial hair. It was that weird chin hair thing. It worked well on his character. And I don’t know what I want to say about it, I just kept noticing it!
Saskia Watger – Johanna ter Steege – The woman who gets kidnapped, Rex’s girlfriend. We don’t get to see her much but for the time that she is there you love her. And man, the actress is GORGEOUS. She has beautiful freckles and lightish hair. I was very upset when she disappeared because I just liked to look at her.
So what I really enjoyed about this movie the most was two things. The first was the way it was filmed.
The first scenes are all chronological – we see the events leading up to the abduction in Rex and Saskia’s lives, and the abduction. Great. Now the middle of the story took me off guard. It alternates back and forth between 3 years AFTER the abduction and the steps Raymond took to prepare for the abduction (and a little bit more about his life). So all the time we’re switching between Rex now, Raymond now, and Raymond before. Sometimes, when a Raymond scene would begin, you weren’t sure if it was now or before. But it would be made obvious as the scene went on. This was very enjoyable to watch, even though it might sound confusing. The end of the movie was now sort of “Rex’s abduction”. We also get a little bit more from Raymonds life, and we FINALLY get to see EXACTLY what happened the abduction day from his point of view. It was very cool to see. The whole movie you, the viewer, have been thinking in your mind what happened that day – what could have made Saskia go with this man? So it is extremely cool to see.
The other part I really liked was seeing the development of Raymond. You get to see him “practice” his whole getting a woman into his car and knocking her out routine. We even get to see him just practice talking to random women to check his heart rate. You see him practice some of the little techniques, like reaching over to lock the door and grabbing the woman to knock her out, on his DAUGHTERS but he turns it into a cute move – he locks the door and pulls her head in and gives her a pinch on the cheek. Scenes like this make you like him. A lot. And that’s the point. The scenes keep him human to us – we see his family, see his life, see him struggle with this task he wants to complete. So when he finally does manage to get Saskia, there’s a little bit of demented pride you have in him. It’s wrong, but whatever.
The ending too was amazing, now that I think about it. My heart was pounding in my chest when Raymond told Rex the only way to find out what happened to Saskia was to have it happen to him as well. And why was my heart pounding? Not for Rex – I didn’t really care that he might die – I cared that I might not get to find out what happened to Saskia. Which is the whole point – Rex has a huge debate with himself at the end, about if it really is worth it just to know what happened to her. I was freaking out too – that I might not find out. Luckily (for me, unluckily for Rex), he chose to find out. And so the big reveal? Buried alive. Here you are expecting some horrible long demented torture or rape or SOMETHING – but no, just buried alive. Raymond revealed earlier that he has claustrophobia – but I still didn’t see it coming. And I’m ok with that.
This was a great movie and I definitely recommend it especially if you want to have your heart pounding out of your chest in excitement.