Vanishing, The (1988): Dutch Thriller–Scariest Film Ever Made?

An unnerving tale of dread and obsession, George Sluizer’s The Vanishing is one of the scariest and most horrifying films I have ever seen.

The Vanishing

Dutch film poster

Based on Time Krabbe’s The Golden Egg, which I have not read, The Vanishing is a deeply disturbing psychological thriller about the search of a young Dutch man’s (Gene Bervoets) for his girlfriend (Joanna de Steege) after she disappears at a rest stop in a gas station during a 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 as to the mystery of her disappearance.

It soon become clear that along with his love and sense of duty, he is also motivated by a primal curiosity.

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 from the get-go, is marked by precise mise-en-scene and attention to detail, all the way through, culminating in one of the most chilling endings ever seen in cinema.

An excellent craftsman, in complete control over technical matters, George Sluizer is also a cerebral director, intrigued by such issues as the true nature of evil and the nature of obsession.

Sluizer remade “The Vanishing” in an American version four years after the release of the original Dutch film, starring Jeff Bridges.  Rather inexplicably, he decided to change the very shocking finale that gave the Dutch film its immediacy and emotional power.


Directed by George Sluizer
Screenplay by Sluizer, Tim Krabbé, based on The Golden Egg
by Tim Krabbé
Produced by Anne Lordon, Sluizer

Cinematography Toni Kuhn
Edited by Sluizer, Lin Friedman

Music by Hennie Vrienten

Production companies: Golden Egg Films, Ingrid Productions
MGS Film

Distributed by Argos Films

Release date: October 27, 1988 (Netherlands)

Running time: 107 minutes