Writers: George Sluizer, Tim Krabbé
DOP: Toni Kuhn
Cast: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege
Language: Dutch, French
Rex and Saskia, a young Dutch couple in love, are on vacation in France. They stop at a busy service station and Saskia is abducted. After three years and no sign of Saskia, Rex begins recieving letters from the abductor.
The film is told from the perspective of both the victim (Rex) and the abductor, who is a self-confessed sociopath. Unlike the usual portrayal in serial killer films, Raymond (abductor) is a middle class chemistry teacher leading a normal life with his family. He is not super-intelligent but a perfectionist of sorts. You see him constantly practising and refining his methods and even practises some moves on his daughter. He is surprised to see new missing posters put up by Rex three years after the incident and decides to confront him and exploit his curiosity. We learn from their interactions that Raymond's antics are not serial in nature but a one-off abduction. He had once saved a young girl from dying and feels that he can kill one for that heroic act.
One of the striking things about the film is its editing as it is pretty much revealed early on itself who the abductor is. Both of their stories are interspersed and the suspense is regarding the fate of the victim. The last act of the film is pretty terrifying and Stanley Kubrick had called it one of the most terrifying films he has ever seen. What makes it effective is the randomness of selection and you will put yourself in place of the victim. Raymond is claustrophobic and he has something similar in sort for his victim. One film I was reminded of was Michael Haneke's Funny Games which was like a sick spoof of the horror genre. Vanishing does break several genre conventions and has plenty of uneasy light-hearted moments.