Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan, Connor Swindells, Gary Lewis
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… a well-acted and captivating psychological thriller…
The dark and stormy weather that clouds Gerard Butler and fellow lightkeepers in Scottish psychological thriller The Vanishing, is as menacing as the inner turmoil that plagues them.
Tasked to operate a remote lighthouse that stands isolated amongst savage waters, three lightkeepers struggle to maintain their sanity when they come into possession of a mysterious wooden chest.
The contents and manner in which the chest is received proves burdensome for the lightkeepers – offering a promise of escape from their hardships while also placing a target on their backs. The Vanishing builds to Shakespearean levels of storytelling, with the weight of the lightkeepers’ internal dilemma attacking at them like violent waves against a cliff-face.
Butler detours out of his action-flick comfort zone to deliver a career-best performance as the muscle of the lighthouse operation – a caring family man whose descent into madness channels something primal. Accompanying him are a grief-stricken superior (a sombre Peter Mullan) and recruit Donald (Connor Swindells). All three actors offer a different dynamic amongst the chaos, which keeps The Vanishing enthralling and tense throughout its duration.
The Vanishing is bolstered by considered direction from Kristoffer Nyholm, who is successful in maintaining a brooding atmosphere in every frame. There is a sense of poetry embodied in the screenplay, with the lightkeepers’ battle with darkness functioning on both a literal and figurative sense. This knack for being overly poetic feels more accustomed to stage, with several scenes involving Mullan reflecting on his grief coming across as excessive.
Serving as a cautionary tale on the fragility of spirit and how close the human psyche teeters on moral corruption, The Vanishing is a well-acted and captivating psychological thriller undersold by marketing that positions it as a Shutter Island lookalike.