Reviewed by Ned Daigle
Rating: 5 Beans
emakes are a tricky thing indeed. The filmmakers want to be true to the original to please the fans, but they also want to put a new spin on the material to show how it can be positively interpreted. But it really makes the heart sink when the remake totally discards what made the original great. If you're going to do that, why bother to remake it? Case in point is the horrid "The Vanishing" which is a remake of a Dutch thriller with the same title.
The plot is an extremely intriguing one. One day a young couple are on a road trip, they stop at a truck stop, he pumps gas and she goes inside to get drinks. But she never returns. The movie is actually the story of the man as he obsesses over what happened to his girlfriend. So far so good, even though the couple is played by the lackluster combo of Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock. This story is intercut with the story of Barney (Jeff Bridges), the guy who is responsible for the girl's disappearance, and follows these guys until they finally meet up and all is resolved.
Jeff Bridges performance as Barney has to be the single worst acting job the man has ever given. In the original film, the character of Barney is portrayed as a very normal, average, family man, who happens to have a sick preoccupation with death. This pure normalcy made him even scarier, he could be your loving father, uncle etc. and you'd never know, as his wife and children are kept in the dark. Bridges portrays Barney in the most odd way: he speaks with a strange accent-slur combination, he has a weird lopsided haircut, and his eyes nearly cross every time he speaks. This guy just screams "Hey look at me, I'm a lunatic!" How nobody who comes in contact with him doesn't just scream and run away is really beyond me. He is supremely goofy.
The real atrocity, however, is the film's ending. In the original, the ending was horrific, uncompromising, and scary as hell! Obviously, 20th Century Fox decided that that was too much of a "downer" and went with a "Fatal Attraction" ending change. The original ending to "Fatal Attraction" was also very horrifying and cool, but since test audience reaction was lukewarm, they changed it to having an undead dead Glenn Close leaping out of a bathtub to be shot. "The Vanishing" decides to have several characters run around the woods, whacking each other in the head with shovels, slashes with knives, and basically turning it into little more than a bad slasher flick, only with better cinematography. Watching Jeff Bridges stumble and mumble around during the finale is especially painful.
The director of this fiasco is George Sluizer. And the most upsetting thing of all is that Sluizer also directed the original. I guess he didn't have enough of a spine to tell the producers and the studio to go screw themselves when they suggested the new ending. I guess he wanted to make everyone happy to guarantee a career in Hollywood, but the film flopped, his plan backfired, and little has been heard from Sluizer since.
"The Vanishing" is a prime example of a studio who has little respect for the intelligence of the movie going public. Watch the original, and you'll really feel insulted by the remake.
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