George Sluizer’s The Vanishing (not to be confused with the wretched 1993 American remake, which he was also directed–difficult as that is to fathom) may have been made over a decade ago, but is still a potent, haunting, and impressively nuanced thriller. While on holiday, a young man’s (Gene Bervoets) girlfriend (Johanna ter Steege) disappears without a trace, and three years later the still-obsessed man is confronted by the woman’s captor (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu). The simple, already premise is made all the more chilling by Donnadieu and Sluizer’s unusual villain; unlike the remake’s ratty ruffian played by Jeff Bridges, the kidnapper looks like and basically is an average, preppy guy. The anonymous everyday, quality to the self-proclaimed sociopathic character adds to the menacing atmosphere, which culminates in a famously bleak conclusion.
Unlike many Criterion discs, “The Vanishing” DVD’s widescreen transfer is enhanced for widescreen televisions. However, everything else is characteristic of a Criterion barebones edition; the soundtrack has not been remastered (the original mono track is presented here), and the only other extra is the film’s theatrical trailer in France, where the film is titled “L’Homme Qui Voulait Savoir (The Man Who Wanted to Know).”
Specifications: 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen; French/Dutch Dolby Digital mono; removable English subtitles.