Spoorloos represents one of the most extraordinary realisations of the psychological thriller captured on film. The heartbreaking, yet horrific ending of the film leaves the spectator in no doubt of their own vulnerability in the battle of human nature against a society in which random acts of madness occur.
On many levels comparisons can be drawn by the obsessive nature of both protagonists. The obsessive curiosity of the boyfriend, Rex (Gene Bervoets), to reveal what has happened to his girlfriend, Saskia (Johanna Ter Steege), who was abducted from a service station on route to a holiday destination, is mirrored by the abductor's, Raymond Lemorne (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu), own curiosity of human nature's darker side, and its ability to manifest itself through evil deeds. The abductor's approach and rationale are entirely scientific, thus allowing him to distance himself emotionally from the actual deed. This approach allows him the luxury of maintaining a seemingly happy marriage and family life, unlike the boyfriend, whose very ability to have insight and uncalculated emotions causes his ultimate demise.
The continuation of Raymond's exploration of his dark side, without any thought of redemption or forgiveness, amplifies the depth of his pathology. Over a period of years Rex's search for Saskia is brought to public attention by his poster and TV campaign through which he hopes to gain knowledge of her whereabouts. Raymond's very normalcy juxtaposed with his victim's anguish creates superb filmic tension.
An intricate examination of the human condition, Spoorloos represents the emergence of a new wave of psychological thrillers. A thoroughly discomfiting film, Spoorloos succeeds through its expert storytelling and the absolutely jolting denouement. In the 1993 American remake—an insult to the original film version—director George Sluizer was unable to translate Tim Krabbe's vision from his novel The Golden Egg.
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Above is the original trailer for The Vanishing