The Vanishing (2018) – Review

Based solely on the Flannan Isle mystery in the early 1900’s, three lighthouse keepers on a secluded island for six weeks, stumble across a hidden trunk of gold after an unknown boat crashes into their land. Little did the trio know that this would introduce an uncomfortable amount of pressure into each of their lives, ultimately leading to the disappearance of all three of the keepers. An incredibly well made and at times tense film that was originally released in 2018 – well worth a watch.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Director: Kristoffer Nyholm
Writers: Celyn Jones, Joe Bone
Starring: Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan, Connor Swindells

Another movie centered around a true story and another movie where I’m saddened to say that the subject matter is one that I’ve never come across, prior to watching The Vanishing this past weekend – the Flannan Isle mystery. It’s also not too often that I bemoan IMDb scores, but sitting at a measly 5.8 at the time of writing this review, I’d like to go on record and state that this is one of the most poorly judged movies I’ve seen on the database.

Without doubt, the greatest strength of this dark and eerier flick was the way the filmmakers managed to successfully invoke suspense and tension from the first minute until the last, with it being especially prominent in many of the films key scenes. One thing that aided this was the soundtrack, or more specifically, the lack of a soundtrack. Refreshingly, there wasn’t any intrusive or overbearing music constantly played, with the characters actions and smart dialogue being the source of much of the suspense and tension.

The cinematography was also an aspect of the movie worth highlighting, but an aspect I felt could have been utilised more from a filmmaking point of view, especially considering four different lighthouses were used in the shooting process, with the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse being the most prevalent.

The three lighthouse keepers themselves, James, Thomas and Donald, were played by Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan and Connor Swindells respectively. Each of the three actors delivered fine performances and there seemed to be more than enough chemistry to make the relationship they had, seem believable. Elsewhere, Soren Malling and Olafur Darri Olafsson also appeared, adopting the roles of Locke and Boor.

At times, turning true stories into a motion pictures can be no mean feat, especially one with so many holes in the original tale, such as the one centering around the Flannan Isle mystery – something that to this day still has people intrigued. But ultimately, if you’re keen on slow burn thrillers that involve very few characters and a pretty straight forward story, The Vanishing will be worth a shot.

“The pressure gets so great it pops the eyeball right out of the head.”

Thomas – The Vanishing

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