“Evil Is Among Us.”
You’ve got to love a horror film directed and written by a guy named Kevorkian. Johnny Kevorkian is a young director still finding his chops with only a handful of credits to his name thus far. The young talent does have vision, and doesn’t go for the obvious. While the film does tend to be a bit heavy on the British sensibilities, you can expect such a thing from an independent low-budget horror film from England. The Disappeared is absolutely derivative of at least 20 films I’ve seen recently and appears to be substantially influenced by the Asian ghost invasion. Still, there is a style here that might not be terribly original, but it is pretty dang effective, at least on this movie.
Matthew Ryan (Treadaway) has spent some time in the mental ward of his local hospital. Some time earlier he was responsible for watching his younger brother Tom (Palmer). Instead the rebellious teen spent the night getting drunk and high with his friends. Tom went missing and by now has been presumed dead. Matthew has been haunted by his guilt ever since. Now he’s getting released. He and his father (Wise) have an uneasy relationship because the father has been dealing with his own grief, and, of course, blames Matthew for Tom’s disappearance. When Matthew watches a videotape from the media coverage of Tom’s disappearance, he believes he hears his brother’s voice calling to him. But when he plays the tape for his father, the voice isn’t there. All he’s accomplished now is to create even more grief and tension between them. On top of that, his father now is concerned that Matthew hasn’t gotten any better. But grief isn’t all that Matthew is haunted by. He begins to see and hear his brother on several occasions. The visions appear to be leading him to clues to what really happened to his brother. To make things even scarier, Tom might not be the only ghost haunting Matthew. The circumstances are driving Matthew crazy and eventually lead him to the truth and a grisly discovery.
Kevorkian does have a style that takes getting used to. He has a habit of lingering with the camera. There are a lot of these kinds of long contemplative moments that will require you to have a bit of patience. He also seems to have a thing for birds.
What makes this film so creepy and effective isn’t the horror elements. Honestly, this movie could have worked without any of those things. The ghost elements are not necessarily a huge part of the film. This could have been a straightforward murder mystery. The key here is an impressive performance by Harry Treadaway as Matthew. His brooding and very quiet style creates an unsettled effect here that just works. The rest of the cast is fine, but Treadaway brings an intangible here that elevates this film to much more than it really was.
The cast includes a couple of familiar faces. Nikki Amuka-Bird plays a medium that Matthew visits for some answers. She’s recently found some notice as the tyrant government hold-over in the new version of The Survivors over on the BBC. Tom Felton plays Simon, one of Matthew’s friends. But we all hate him as Draco Malfoy, the bully who loves to antagonize Harry Potter.
The Disappeared is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This is not only a dark film, but the image is quite cold. That means there is a lot of blue tinge to the entire image. Colors are consequently rather soft and ill-defined. There is minor compression artifact here, but not enough to ruin the experience. Black levels are pretty average with some shadow definition, while at other times you lose detail in the darkness.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 is very much a straight dialog piece most of the time. There are, however, some exceptional moments in the mix. At times Tom’s ghost voice comes at you from many different directions, which gives the film part of its creepy atmosphere. These are times when the film sucks you inside. Often the film is very claustrophobic, which is reflected in the mix as well.
The Making Of Disappeared: (16:09) Cast and crew have a lot of nice things to say about each other here. You get a ton of synopsis and analysis of the themes. Often the film’s score dominates the sound-bites.
Post Production: (13;22) This continuation of the previous feature looks at the post- production aspects of the film which include editing, scoring, and f/x.
Anatomy Of Horror: (7:58) Cast and crew examine some of the fright highlights of the film.
All in all, this is a slow-moving but atmospheric murder/mystery/ghost story. I recommend you at least check it out, even if you’re not a solid horror fan. I think you might be pleasantly surprised at how good it is, if you have the patience. If you really don’t have that kind of patience, you have to skip this one, but you’re missing a nifty little independent film. And, if you really do like ghosts, “This place is full of them”.