THE VANISHING, a slow-paced psychological thriller, deals with the mysterious disappearance of a beautiful woman, and the persistent efforts of her boyfriend to find out what happened to her. Jeff Bridges stars as Barney Cousins, a professor in Seattle who is secretly interested in testing his capacity for evil. Enter Dianne Shaver and Jeff Harriman (Kiefer Sutherland), an unmarried couple on a weekend trip in the Cascade mountains. As Jeff relaxes, Dianne enters a market only to be waylaid by Barney. Three years later, Jeff is a bedraggled, unemployed loner who has devoted his life to the mystery of her disappearance while Barney observes him. When Rita falls in love with Jeff and demands he give up his search, Barney decides it is time to contact Jeff himself. We realize that the psychological torture of Jeff is really Barney’s true experiment. The finale of this film reveals all of Barney’s deep, dark secrets and forces Jeff and Rita to use all of their resources in their fight to survive.
THE VANISHING is a somewhat-improved remake of the Dutch psychological thriller SPOORLOSS (1988) with surprisingly little sex or foul language. However, filmmakers should not glorify people like Barney Cousins. Thus, THE VANISHING is just another film that packages gruesome events as entertainment and leaves us feeling more fearful and depressed about the world than we did before.
(H, LL, VVV, S, A/D, Ab) Existentialist worldview; 23 obscenities & 7 profanities; woman forcibly subdued with chloroform, 2 murders, jabbing instrument in eye, fights, man violently kicked, punched and thrown down stairs, stabbings, knifings, igniting clothing with cigarette lighter, & saw fight; cohabitation & implied fornication; narcotized coffee, drinking beer & smoking cigarettes; and, man viewed as "god" after heroic rescue.