Film Review – The Vanishing (2018)

Title – The Vanishing (2018)

Director – Kristoffer Nyholm (feature debut)

Cast – Peter Mullan, Gerard Butler, Connor Swindells, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Søren Malling

Plot – Based on the mysterious 1900 disappearance of three lighthouse keepers on the Flannan Isles off Scotland, Thomas (Mullan), James (Butler) and Donald (Swindells) enter into an increasingly dangerous situation after a wild storm brings a chest full of gold into their possession.  

“Do exactly as I say”

Review by Eddie on 21/05/2019

Based on the true Flannan Isles mystery that saw three lighthouse keepers mysteriously disappear in 1900 without a trace, The Vanishing (formally known as The Keepers) creates an intriguing narrative with an experienced cast that once more showcases that greed is never good.

Starring the brilliant Peter Mullan as elderly lighthouse keeper Thomas Marshall, Gerard Butler as experienced keeper James Ducat and Connor Swindells as upstart Donald McCarthur, Kristoffer Nyholm’s bleak and grey coloured thriller places a capable cast in a somewhat predictable affair that sadly eschews mystery in favour of a more predictable and by the numbers affair featuring gold, insanity and cold blooded murder.

Filming off the picturesque island surrounds that are found not far from the Scottish coastline, Vanishing is a rugged and realistic expose of lighthouse keeping life as the three men all from various backgrounds and situations find themselves pitted together and trying to hide a deadly secret that has the potential to change their lives should they get away with their dastardly plan.

In this regard, Nyholm’s cast are more than capable of delivering tension and nerve raddled performances, with joy to be found as per usual in Mullan’s performance, thriving when getting away from side parts to take lead and it’s great to see the capable yet often sleepwalking Gerard Butler invest himself in one of his best performances in years.

Whether it’s a Fallen film, Geostorm or submarine bore Hunter Killer, the last few years have not been kind to the one time Hollywood A-lister, with blame falling squarely at the actor who was clearly not pushing himself out of his comfort zone. Vanishing strips back any chance Butler would have of being a hero or one-note care free know it all and the increasingly unhinged Ducat finally allows him a character to really play into.

The problem with Nyholm’s film is that despite the mystery on which the film is based upon, Vanishing plays out in a mostly predictable and rather dour way, there’s little flair or surprising plot developments to be found once the films key plot point is developed in the form of some washed up gold bars, which is a shame as much tension and intrigue could’ve been mined for the story and the audience had Nyholm chosen to keep things a little less by the numbers.

Final Say –

A great chance to see Mullan and Butler ply their trades in some meaty lead roles, The Vanishing is a solid if unremarkable thriller that could’ve been something truly special had it embraced the mysterious nature of its true story to greater effect.

3 dead birds out of 5

4 responses to “Film Review – The Vanishing (2018)

  1. Hmm. I read of the ‘true’ (as much as we can ever know) story awhile ago, back when the film was first announced I think. I expected a rather gothic, maybe even Lovecraftian unhinged horror. Turns out to be rather different then!

    • Yeh its a lot different to how I thought it would all play out mate, I think another version of the tale could really ratchet up the horror.

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