The Vanishing (Spoorloos) (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Vanishing (Spoorloos)1988

The Vanishing (Spoorloos) (1988)



Critic Consensus: A clinical, maddening descent into the mind of a serial killer and a slowly unraveling hero, culminating with one of the scariest endings of all time.

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Movie Info

Based on Time Krabbe's The Golden Egg, The Vanishing is a deeply disturbing psychological thriller about a young man's search for his girlfriend after she disappears at a rest stop during a short trip. Over the course of three years, the man obsessively searches for her, using his spare time to put up posters and leave handbills, hoping that someone will give him a clue to the mystery surrounding her disappearance. The kidnapper, having watched the man for some time, is intrigued by his increasing obsession and finally contacts him. He then gives the man the opportunity to learn firsthand of his girlfriend's fate. The film, frightening and moving with a chilling conclusion, is a small masterpiece as director George Sluizer confronts and examines the true nature of evil and obsession. Sluizer remade The Vanishing in an American version four years after the release of the original Dutch film, inexplicably changing the shocking ending which gave the original film such power. ~ Linda Rasmussen, Rovi

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Gene Bervoets
as Rex Hofman
Johanna ter Steege
as Saskia Wagter
Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu
as Raymond Lemorne
Gwen Eckhaus
as Lieneke
Bernadette Le Saché
as Simone Lemorne
Mieke de Groote
as Belgian Tourist
Lucille Glenn
as Gabrielle
Roger Souza
as Manager
Pierre Forget
as Farmer Laurent
Didier Rousset
as TV Journalist
as Gisele Marzin
David Bayle
as Lemorne (Age 16)
Eric Jacquet
as Pump Attendant
Aziz Djahnit
as Pump Attendant
as Lady `Prisunic'
Linda Wise
as English Tourist
Ian Magilton
as English Tourist
Mieke DeGroote
as Belgian Tourist
Jean Grandeau
as German Tourist
Faustine Wunsche
as Little Girl
Ghislaine Gazaix
as Hitchhiker
M. Martinez
as Cafe Owner
François Guizerix
as Cop/Sports Presenter
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Critic Reviews for The Vanishing (Spoorloos)

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (8)

It's an elegant, riveting piece of filmmaking.

August 20, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

The appalling, horrific climax of The Vanishing will haunt your mind long after this film is over.

October 19, 2016 | Full Review…

It's a film that functions on curiosity rather than real interest (given the fact that the characters are thinly drawn and largely unsympathetic), yet in the end punishes the audience for wanting to have its questions answered.

October 19, 2016 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Sluizer's direction is seamless throughout, effortlessly juggling domesticity and damnation as it ploughs inexorably towards an appaling dénouement.

January 26, 2006 | Full Review…

Mr. Sluizer, whose direction has the spooky precision of nonfiction crime writing and whose matter-of-factness makes the characters seem quite real, builds a disturbing horror story from seemingly modest beginnings.

May 20, 2003 | Full Review…

Director George Sluizer unfolds his story with non-hysterical -- but nonetheless unnerving -- precision. Vanishing is refreshingly free of manipulative scenes involving running bath water, jagged-edge cutlery and bunnies in the saucepan.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Vanishing (Spoorloos)


Despite the fact that the characters (as well as the relationship between Rex and Saskia) are not so well developed, this is a spine-chilling thriller that relies on a gripping mystery and lets us slowly grasp the motivations of its fascinating villain toward a terrifying conclusion.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Edgar Allen Poe once said that, without a traceable motive, anyone can commit murder with impunity. The Vanishing instantly made me think about this quote for quite a while. An excellent, methodical and expertly directed film that confidently refuses to be labeled as a one genre, George Suizer's cautionary tale about obsession and how far we'll go to find truth is an art house triumph. This dark, brilliant film has been much-talked about since its release in 1988, and for good reason: only a few films have such immutable power, leaving you with mental images that stay with you long after its conclusion. This film's austere ending is a commentary on the prevalence of heartless evil in our society. Reduced to its simplest expression, there is no joy in nature. Make no mistake, this is an ugly film, but an utterly fascinating one at that. Rex and Saskia are two young lovers on holiday, alternately loving and fighting as close couples are won't to do. Their flaws are revealed, making them more endearing: during the drive he becomes macho and demanding, while she rebels and becomes petty and shrill. After the fight, they are closer than ever. One cares about these characters, can imagine their lives together for years to come, possibly even getting married. She's earthy and fun-loving, while he is quietly appreciative of her company. Oddly, she presages the forthcoming events by recounting a strange dream about a golden egg. These two seem a perfect match. The sun sets on their short romance when they stop at a rest area and she disappears. He hangs around the rest area for hours, long into the night looking for her and trying to reconstruct her footsteps through the rest area. The sense of desperation and mystery lingers, and it shows in his pained expression. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one can identify with his quiet, desperate longing. Several years later, Rex is still obsessed with Saskia's disappearance. His romantic partner, realizing that she can never take Saskia's place, walks out on him. Rex appears on talk shows, canvasses neighborhoods with flyers, and revisits their favorite places in an attempt to understand just why Saskia disappeared. This part is important: Rex wants to understand the nature of evil, and in order to successfully get through this film without lying awake all night with the ending forever running in your head, it's important to acknowledge this aspect of his character. The film cuts to Raymond, the man who kidnapped Saskia: you might have imagined a raving maniac, but instead you see a gentle, kindly older teacher with a wife and son, living in a well-appointed flat and driving a Citroen; he might just as well be Pere Noel on summer holiday. This film is constructed like a crime scene investigation. First we experience the disappearance firsthand, and then we go into the mind and life of Raymond, showing how he coldly planned and carried out the kidnapping with as much emotion as changing the oil in his car. It is this two-part process which slowly builds the powerful suspense in this film. We see how methodical he is in his approach to the planned kidnapping, and, impossibly, we even laugh at him: looking for a victim, he inadvertently makes a pass at a young woman he knows, and she calls him on it, saying that he should be ashamed of himself. It is this twist of fate that drives him to kidnap a young woman from the rest area, where no one is likely to know him. So the fates have brought him Saskia. Aware of Rex's obsession, Raymond offers to meet him in a public place and show him what happened to Saskia. Suffice it to say that the mystery of Saskia's disappearance is frighteningly revealed at last; listen closely and you can almost hear God laughing in the soundtrack. The ending is so genius that I wouldn't dare spoil it here -- but rest assured, it's one for the ages. There is nothing beautiful about this film; it is cold, ugly, and unfair -- and I love it.

Jonathan Hutchings
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

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