By Don Simpson | February 23, 2015
Director: Bryan Bockbrader
Writer: Bryan Bockbrader
Starring: Maiara Walsh, Tony Todd, Danny Trejo, Austin Abke, Bryan Bockbrader, Adam Guthrie, Denise Dorado, Hope Diaz, Angela Robitaille, Joe Davis
Jack (Austin Abke), Shane (Adam Guthrie) and Max (Bryan Bockbrader) are minor league criminals who attempt to break into the big leagues by kidnapping the only daughter of an infamous drug cartel boss. Long estranged from her father, Emma (Maiara Walsh) lives alone — a fact that allows the masked hooligans to effortlessly take her in broad daylight and stuff her into the backseat of their van.
Writer-director Bryan Bockbrader bravely keeps the camera crammed inside the van for the entirety of the film. Abiding by the rules of single-location filmmaking, Bockbrader traps his characters (and the audience) within the van’s 8′ by 4′ interior in order to perpetuate the film’s claustrophobic intensity; VANish simultaneously takes full advantage of the inherent forward motion of the road movie genre to propel the narrative deep into the desert where the amateur kidnappers hope to exchange Emma for a cool 5 million dollars.
Emma is by no means a damsel in distress; she is a kick ass action hero who knows how to best calculate her actions in order to ensure her survival. But preserving her own destiny is not all that easy for Emma, as the hapless kidnappers seem hopelessly drawn towards ridiculously dangerous situations in which everyone inside the van seems highly capable of dying. In such tight quarters, the relentless physicality of every battle is exacerbated to devastatingly brutal proportions — the adroit choreography of it all is pretty damn impressive.
Even though VANish plays like a throwback to that remarkable onslaught of hyper-violent crime dramas of the 1990s in the wake of Reservoir Dogs, Bockbrader’s stylistic approach is impressively original. The first-time writer-director does well to work within his means, keeping things gritty and grindhouse-y without succumbing to the lazy micro-budget temptation of making a found footage flick.
VANish will be released on February 24th on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD and iTunes courtesy of Dark Sky Films.