The Vanishing ★★★

Inspired by the Flannan Isles mystery of 1900, this film from Kristoffer Nyholm of The Killing fame is a bit of a curate's egg of speculative fiction; throwing in theories of both quicksilver madness and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre-style gold induced insanity. The most simple and likely explanation, that localised storms and freak waves swept all three keepers out to sea, obviously doesn't make for the stuff of movies.

Bit of a slowburner this. It takes a while to get going, preferring to allow us to get to know the characters and colour these sequences with an ominous sense of foreboding, as little signs suggest trouble ahead. Then it really springs into life in the second act as we confront screenwriters Celyn Jones and Joe Bone's take on what put the wheels in motion for the mystery, before fizzling out in the final stages.

Nevertheless, I could watch Peter Mullan all day. Gerard Butler, less so. In fact, I struggle to watch him in the many thirty second TV adverts he routinely pops up in. But, to be fair to him, he is obviously rising to the estimable company standard around him here and actually doing some acting for a change. Interesting to note that he gets the showier role over young Connor Swindells whose character, Donald, is actually the one who is often treated with suspicion in the many conspiracy theories regarding the incident. Nyholm instills a great sense of atmosphere to the proceedings, but the screenplay is ultimately forced onto the rocks and beyond his control.

Maybe a bit generous with three stars but, one for Mullan, one for portentous atmosphere, and one for a really nice looking film.

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