The Vanished second opinion – walk of shame

By Marc Miller
Published: October 27, 2020 (Last updated: February 13, 2024)


I’ve never held a grudge against a film that objectively works, but The Vanished may be the first.

I’ve never held a grudge against a film that objectively works, but it’s an unusual year, so this may be the first. The Vanished is a thriller that is the film equivalent of being proven wrong about an argument and then pouting about it. You know, when you refuse to admit you are wrong by stubbornly walking away without saying a word. The Vanished is that kind of B-movie. By the end you will understand what the filmmaker was trying to accomplish; You will just wish they took a different (and less contentious) avenue to get there.

The film starts with a family, the Michaelson’s, who decide to take an RV to Tuscaloosa, Alabama for a Thanksgiving campfire holiday. Paul (played by Thomas Jane) is an ex-marine who enjoys being a father, equipped with Dad jokes, and the middle-aged fishing hat to boot. Wendy (Anne Heche) is his wife, who seems just as excited to change up their usual holiday plans. Taylor is their 11-year old daughter (played by KK and Sadie Heim) who is their pride and joy. They both lovingly talk to their daughter about their plans. They exchange gleaming glances the way only children can make their parents feel. Of course, as tends to be the case in thrillers, the bliss evaporates as Taylor goes missing. They call the local sheriff (Jason Patric), who knows all too well the pain of losing a child. He takes charge of the investigation of finding the Michaelson’s daughter.

Actor Peter Facinelli (The F**k-It List) wrote and directed The Vanished (formerly titled Hour of Lead). You have to admire his script with the twist that showed a decent amount of ambition. The problem, as psychological thrillers go, is the first 105 out of 114 minutes lack a certain polish that his film sorely needed. Its knowledge of the stages of grief is lackluster and attempts to weave it into its plot in a way that comes off as amateurish at best.

The Vanished‘s plot is fickle, the acting is overdone, and the behaviors displayed on the screen by Jane and Heche’s couple are inconsistent with the situation at hand. Yet, the ending ties it all together in the only way the film could work. It somehow manages to nullify the actions by the parents of the missing child as bizarrely out of place. It even takes some of the over-the-top red herrings that Facinelli beats the viewer over the head with as passable.

The problem though, as I thought to myself as the credits rolled, is I just don’t care. The Vanished failed in that regard, though I admired the attempt.

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