Little Nawrot trivia...we still own a Laser Disc player. Back in the days of yore, when Laser Discs were the rage, we collected the movies and have probably a hundred of them. At the time, Laser Discs were much better resolution than VHS, so we were one of the suckers that bought into the technology. And now, with so many movies in this format, we will own them until we can no longer replace broken equipment through Ebay. (We even had our Laser Disc player hooked up to our new media set-up, much to the chuckling of the techno-geeks who did the work.)
For my birthday last year, my sister bought all the quality Laser Disc titles from a friend liquidating his inventory, and sent them to me. My sister is a movie critic, so I trust her judgement.
One of these titles was "The Vanishing", a Dutch movie made in 1988 (subtitles). The stars may be big in the Netherlands, but they were all relatively unknown here in the US. The movie has been heralded a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, which sounded good to us.
So here is the premise. Rex and Saskia, a young couple in love, are headed to France for a romantic holiday. When they stop at a service station for gas and snacks, Saskia disappears, never to be heard from again. Rex spends years obsessing over the loss of his love, foregoing all others, waging a one-man campaign to find her, even though he knows deep down inside she is dead.
One day, Saskia's abductor contacts Rex and begins to toy with him. When they finally meet in person, the abductor makes an offer that he knows Rex cannot refuse - to learn what happened to his girlfriend. But Rex must play by the rules.
While this movie is not at the level of a Hitchcock, my husband and I could definitely see the similarities. There was considerable character development in both Rex and the abductor (who was a real sinister sicko bastard). The movie builds slowly, patiently showing us who these two men are, their personalities, their frailties. When the two cross paths, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I knew nothing good was going to come from it. With each of them well-marinated in their obsessions, compounded by some sociopathic manipulations, we began to shake our heads...this was seriously messed up.
While this is definitely not a five star suspense thriller, it will provide a couple of hours of edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Recommended.