The Disappeared (2008)

(E)state of mind

First shown as part of 2008’s Frightfest, and now chosen as one of the highlights of the ICA’s New British Cinema season, it’s clear that Johnny Kevorkian’s thriller The Disappeared is highly regarded by those in the know in the UK film industry. And audiences too should respond to its grimy, atmospheric chills.

Rising British star Harry Treadaway (Control, City of Ember) is teen Matthew who, along with his father Jake (Greg Wise) is trying to cop with the disappearance of his younger brother Tom from their London housing estate. Matt’s grief has pushed him into depression – but when he begins to be haunted by nightmarish visions of Tom he must work out whether his brother is actually trying to tell him something.

The Disappeared’s low budget is undoubtedly an asset to its overall success. The focus is small and intensely personal, the camera an unwavering witness to Matthew’s descent into apparent madness; forcing us to accompany him on his disturbing psychological journey. As the disturbed Matthew, Treadaway is compelling; unstable enough that we can’t quite believe everything he sees but grounded enough that we are prepared to follow his lead. And Wise and Harry Potter star Tom Felton lend solid support, as Matt’s despairing father and disbelieving friend respectively.

The cinematography, by Diego Rodriguez (In the Hand of the Gods) reflects the film’s mood –everything from the claustrophobic rooms of the estate to the soaring, distant London skyline are saturated with miserable greys. And, although the more supernatural elements of the story are deliberately toned down, so as to keep Matthew’s psychosis at the fore, there are some creepy moments. The climax may be something of a horror cliché, and will come as no surprise to those who have been paying attention, but it’s a solid thriller from a new British director who is showing some serious promise. Certainly here, Kevorkian knows how to highlight the film’s strengths of story and character and, by not overplaying the spookier elements, delivers a neat little thriller.

3 stars

(This review has also been published on Little White Lies )

Stars Harry Treadaway, Greg Wise, Tom Felton
Director Johnny Kevorkian
Screenplay Neil Murphy & Johnny Kevorkian
Certificate tbc
Distributor Jinga Films
Running Time 1hr 36mins
Opens June 19 (as part of the ICA’s New British Cinema Season)