Kicks the crap out of the American version.

Spoorloos (The Vanishing) (DVD)

Cliffnotes review:
Kicks the crap out of the American version.

This film goes to: 10
Rated (NR)
Directed by: George Sluizer
Starring: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steeg
107 minutes
Meteor Film Productions

If you ever wanted to witness exactly what is wrong with Hollywood, compare and contrast the two versions of The Vanishing currently available for rent at your local video store. The first, and vastly superior version, comes direct from our friends across the pond (the Netherlands to be exact) and simply runs circles around the lame, American counterpart which we will now and forevermore wipe from our collective memory.

Spoorloos, at first glance, appears to be a fairly simple tale of an abduction and the characters surrounding this horrific event. However, upon closer examination, this Kieslowskian narrative is much more centered around questions of fate, responsibility and redemption than a simple "psycho on the loose" tripe favored by filmmakers on this side of the Atlantic.

This outstanding film unfolds in a non-linear fashion with much of the action being relayed via excellent use of flashback to bring the audience full-circle. Evenly paced and consistently creepy, Spoorloos immerses the viewer in the worlds surrounding both sides of one woman's abduction. Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu portrays Raymond Lemorne, who, from all angles, appears to be a fairly normal guy. Underneath his veneer of normalcy lies a sociopath on the make for a victim. We are allowed into his true self, however as we learn more about his compulsions and their manifestation.

Lemorne's victim, at first glance, appears to be the abductee, Saskia, adeptly acted by Johanna ter Steeg, but her boyfriend, Rex Hofman, carries the brunt of this film as he struggles with her disappearance and tries, over the course of several years, to discover what happened to his lost friend. Gene Bervoets gets serious nods here as Hofman's character is run ragged in his search for the truth.

Rest assured, this is no standard fare of horror/suspense. European cinema seems to have a way of making film more realistic and one is immediately sucked into the story as if standing alongside the characters in question. Lemorne is matter of fact about his planning of the abduction and retelling of the events preceding Saskia's disappearance. Even the act itself seems matter of course but so within the realm of possibility that the viewer is left with the belief that this "definitely could happen to me". Hofman's unraveling is couched in his unrelenting search for Saskia until he is no longer hopeful of her rescue but is driven by his lust for discovering what truly occurred to his friend. We, the audience, know little more than Hofman and are fully strapped in for the ride that unfolds before us. By the end, we are all in the same boat; needing fulfillment that only full disclosure can bring.

Spoorloos is delivered in a fairly unspectacular 1.33:1 ratio. This is unfortunate to say the least but is better than not having the opportunity to view this film at all, I suppose.

Again, nothing to write home about here… This film is presented in French, Dutch and minimal English with English subtitles.

Chapter selection is the only extra available on this disc. Weak, but again, a superior cinematic nonetheless.

This DVD goes to:
Film 10
Video 3
Audio 3
Extras 1

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Critter Critique: This week's review brought to you by Gavin.
Fatal Attraction:  Yet another example of Hollywood schlock served up in a double boiler. Though Fatal Attraction starts innocently enough, I was shocked and appalled to witness the on-screen atrocity put forth as entertainment in act three. Trust me, this one is not fit for man nor beast. Ginger Pants