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Film / Vanishing on 7th Street

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Fear of the dark has always been a primal instinct for humanity. The darkness hides any number of unknowns, such as nocturnal predators or obstacles to walking. We usually overcome our fear of the dark in early childhood, because there isn't really anything dangerous about the dark.
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...Or is there?

A power outage has just hit Detroit, and almost the entire population has vanished, leaving behind empty clothing, abandoned cars, and an assortment of non-organic parts. A spare handful of people are left behind, forced to scavenge for light sources to survive. This time, the danger isn't in the dark. It is the dark.

The Vanishing on 7th Street (2010) is a post-apocalyptic thriller film directed by Brad Anderson and starring John Leguizamo, Hayden Christensen, and Thandie Newton.


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This movie contains examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: Paul recounts his experience of being briefly taken by the shadows into a suffocating place of darkness and voices. He tried to scream, but there was no sound.
  • Apocalypse How: Whatever the phenomenon is seems to be happening all over the world (Planetary) and affecting primarily humans (Societal Collapse, bordering on Species Extinction). Batteries, the power grid, and gasoline are losing their ability to provide energy, and the daylight hours are growing shorter and shorter.
  • Big Blackout: The phenomenon starts with a mysterious power blackout that could be worldwide.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Of the survivors we see after the initial blackout, the first to vanish in the dark is a black security guard. It's worth mentioning that of the main cast, James is the only survivor.
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  • Body Horror: The blackout leaves a heart surgery patient abandoned by the surgeons, his chest clamped open, and himself fully conscious. Mercifully (sort of), the next flickering of lights takes him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: James survives the Darkness' attack and hitches along with another survivor, but the daylight hours are getting shorter and electrical devices are losing their ability to provide energy, which means that outside of something along the lines of Divine Intervention, everyone who survived the first blackout will find themselves living on borrowed time before the Darkness claims them as well.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Whatever caused the power outage also caused all the cell phones to stop working. In one case a satellite phone indicates a dead battery.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: The day of the blackout, Luke finds a recording from a survivor in Chicago who seems to have some ideas about the phenomenon. Said survivor is giving a phone number when the power goes out, cutting off the last digit.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: There are no answers of what is the darkness. Only thing that is sure is that anybody who has survived the first taking will run out of luck eventually (even daylight hours will eventually run out).
  • Crazy-Prepared: The bar the protagonists find themselves in was owned by a paranoid survivalist type, which is why it's well stocked and has plenty of fuel for the backup generator. Shame he couldn't prepare for the laws of nature suddenly falling apart...
  • Darkness = Death: Or rather, darkness equals vanishing without a trace.
  • Doomed Hurt Guy: Paul
  • Dwindling Party: As the darkness picks off the survivors one by one.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: Left behind to indicate where people were when the blackout hit.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: A popular theory among the survivors, though they can't quite agree on what it means, if anything.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Darkness itself is a sentient malevolent force that snatches people.
  • The Faceless: The shadow-creatures are faceless silhouettes if they take on a coherent shape, usually in an apparent mockery of humans.
  • Happy Flashback: James has one, remembering just a few days ago when the bar his mother worked at was filled with light and people.
  • Hard-to-Light Fire: One survivor assembles a gasoline-powered torch to keep them at bay, then asks his companion for her lighter. She realizes she'd left it behind at their previous hiding place, so both have to race the shadows into a nearby clinic where she used to borrow matches from one of the nurses.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Zig-zagged. At times there is just enough light to see the actors due to their own portable light sources, but at other times it goes absolutely pitch-black. That's when people vanish.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The shadow-creatures manifest as human silhouettes when they do manifest.
  • Infant Immortality: While it is a given that lots of children and babies vanished offscreen (Rosemary's son Manny being one of them), James survives to the end of the movie, as does a little girl named Briana.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: More accurately "light off, somebody vanishes", but the idea is still there.
  • Living Shadow: The shadow-creatures, whatever they are.
  • Meaningful Background Event: While Luke is wandering the abandoned city, a plane silently nosedives behind him until it meets the ground with a fiery explosion.
  • Minimalist Cast: Once the blackout happens, we see a grand total of five characters remaining—seven if you include the guy from Chicago and a random Japanese reporter with no speaking lines, both on recordings.
  • No Ending: The movie ends with no explanation for the phenomenon, just a lot of theories, and an uncertain future for the known survivors.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • The empty streets of Detroit, complete with abandoned cars and empty piles of clothing.
    • We never learn what caused the phenomenon.
    • What are the shadow creatures? What do they want? Nobody knows.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Inverted. The last shot of the film shows the survivors riding a horse as dusk falls, but they're headed east, so the sun sets behind them. The usual feeling of closure that accompanies the trope is also pointedly absent.
  • Stock Unsolved Mysteries: Paul believes that the shadows are behind the disappearance of the colonists at Roanoke and is not the only one judging by the sign saying croatoan, the word that the colonists left carved in a tree.
  • Sole Survivor: After the Darkness takes the other protagonists and James finds himself cornered, he whispers "I exist." to himself over and over, in a last ditch attempt to stop it from claiming him. It works.
  • Survival Mantra: "I exist." Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.
  • Voice Changeling: The shadow-creatures can mimic voices to trick potential victims into approaching
  • Weakened by the Light: Good news: the shadows can be driven off by light. Bad news: the chemical reactions that power the lights are failing.
  • Was Once a Man: It's implied that the shadow creatures are those who have been taken by the darkness. This theory is supported by the fact that shadow creatures taking the forms of those vanished start appearing after they disappear.

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