Vanished: Aged 7
Director: Ryuta Mistake
Starring: Kyoko Hinami, Rin Asuka, Nanami Fujimoto, Reika Kirishima, Ryosuke Taken
Thousands of kidnappings and missing persons reports go unsolved every year in Japan. When a series of disappearances between young girls and teens occurs, there seems to be an otherworldly force that is bringing these cases together.
A short and generally softer horror/thriller, Vanished: Aged 7 tackles a deeply personal subject wrapped up in a formulaic Japanese picture. Featuring performances that range from nuanced (Hinami) to wooden (Asuka), the picture tends to meander all over the screen before finally finding focus well into the second act.
The film does play around a bit with a number of horror conventions that are more or less better than average, but the level of bait and switch did grate on me after a while. Shot reasonably well, it does deliver solid atmosphere and a tenseness which is admirable, but the film’s climax results in a picture that struggles to find meaning, both for the talent involved and for most viewers.
Of note is a surprisingly good performance by the aforementioned Hinami; her character has been stricken with depression when she finds herself embroiled into the shocking events of the film. Hers is certainly the best performance of the mostly young cast, but she also has quite a bit more material and motivation elucidated upon during the film. Still, it is a noticeably solid portrayal among the generally average cast.
Ultimately, the film suffers, despite its already short running time, from a desire to pad out the film length with unnecessary scenes and lack of focus for presentation. At times, the film seems like two totally different pictures. Despite some decent atmospheric tension and an admittedly decent ending, Vanished… just offers everything just too little and too late. While certainly delivering some good elements, the picture as a whole can’t ever truly deliver a complete picture, let alone a decently paced and consistent horror film.