out of Five
Running time: 96
Extremely atmospheric and genuinely creepy, this is a well crafted, sharply written British chiller with a terrific central performance from Harry Treadaway.
What's it all about?
The debut feature by co-writer / director Johnny Kevorkian, The Disappeared stars Harry Treadaway as Matthew, a disturbed teenager who's just been released from hospital after a nervous breakdown induced by the sudden disappearance of his younger brother Tom (Lewis Lempereur Palmer) several months previously. Returning to his home on a grim London housing estate, Matthew finds that both his alcoholic father (Greg Wise) and his best friend Simon (Tom Felton) think he's still crazy, so when he starts hearing Tom's voice on old Crimewatch recordings, he's unsure of who to turn to.
However, Matthew finds a sympathetic ear in his new neighbour, a shy young woman named Amy (Ros Leeming), who suggests that he visit a local medium (Nikki Amuka-Bird). And when Simon's sister Sophie (Georgia Groome) subsequently disappears, Matthew realises that someone or something is abducting children and decides to listen to what the voices are telling him, whatever the cost.
Kevorkian skilfully creates a genuinely creepy atmosphere, through inventive use of sound, shadowy cinematography and subtle editing rather than the usual in-your-face shock techniques. It's also beautifully shot, so that the entire estate possesses a menacing dream-like quality that works well.
In addition, the sharply written script is excellent and keeps you guessing till the end – are the voices real? Is Matthew's drunken father to blame? Was Tom killed by the leader of the estate's thuggish hoodies? Or is Matthew losing his mind after all?
Harry Treadaway is fantastic as Matthew, delivering a quietly controlled, deeply sympathetic performance that means that you root for him even if you're not entirely convinced of his sanity. There's also strong support from Wise, Felton and Leeming, while Amuka-Bird's cameo as the medium is effectively creepy.
In short, The Disappeared is an emotionally engaging, genuinely creepy and superbly acted British chiller that marks Johnny Kevorkian out as a director to watch. Highly recommended.