If you're not afraid of the dark now, you just might be after seeing 'Vanishing on 7th Street.' The new post-apocalyptic thriller by director Brad Anderson ('The Machinist') stars Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo and newcomer Jacob Latimore as a group of survivors trying to figure out how to sustain themselves in a world where everyone has inexplicably vanished.

The movie doesn't have a traditional villain. An ambiguous "dark" entity engulfs anyone who doesn't have his or her own source of light, whether it be from a flashlight, a candle, a lighter, a glowstick, or exposure to the ever-shrinking bursts of daylight. The four survivors take refuge in a bar that's powered by a back-up generator, but the sinister shadows are never far away.

'Vanishing' had its world premiere as part of the Toronto International Film Festival's Midnight Madness line-up. We caught up with Christensen and Newton the following day at the Windsor Arms Hotel, where a crowd of onlookers lurked outside trying to catch a glimpse of the stars.
If you're not afraid of the dark now, you just might be after seeing 'Vanishing on 7th Street.' The new post-apocalyptic thriller by director Brad Anderson ('The Machinist') stars Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo and newcomer Jacob Latimore as a group of survivors trying to figure out how to sustain themselves in a world where everyone has inexplicably vanished.

The movie doesn't have a traditional villain. An ambiguous "dark" entity engulfs anyone who doesn't have his or her own source of light, whether it be from a flashlight, a candle, a lighter, a glowstick, or exposure to the ever-shrinking bursts of daylight. The four survivors take refuge in a bar that's powered by a back-up generator, but the sinister shadows are never far away.

'Vanishing' had its world premiere as part of the Toronto International Film Festival's Midnight Madness line-up. We caught up with Christensen and Newton the following day at the Windsor Arms Hotel, where a crowd of onlookers lurked outside trying to catch a glimpse of the stars.

This is a pretty unusual concept. What was your reaction when you first saw the script?
Newton: I really liked how spare the script was. And you could tell straight away that it wasn't going to be looking for shocks and thrills. It was much more a kind of meditation on fear and --

Christensen: And death.

Newton: Yeah, and death. And it would rely heavily on what the actors brought to it, which I thought was... you don't get those very often.

Did you have any idea about how you were going to get into character and approach it?
Christensen: What I liked about the script was the containment of it and how that would allow for real character exploration. We spent a lot of time in that bar. Just Thandie, John, Jacob and myself. And it really felt like we were putting on a play.

Newton: We had lots of night shoots in the freezing cold. It was like an endurance test. We had a lot of stuff to get through, so it was also everyone very keen to get the work done. So there almost wasn't time to think about how cold it was. I love all of that.

Christensen: I think it also lends itself to the work. The nature of having to make a movie in such tough conditions in such a short period of time gave us all this sort of frantic feeling that we're just trying to keep up with in the movie.



What were you picturing, since the "monster" is very vague and we never really see it?
Hayden: Just a shadow that moves on its own. That's pretty unnerving.

Newton: Creeping towards you, encompassing everything. But also there's sort of a feeling of drowning, too, and suffocation. It's like all the worst ways to go in this entity.

Christensen: I think the ambiguity of it all allows you to create your own worst fear. It's not like you have a monster jumping out at you. It's unknown.

Last night you mentioned that you placed a lot of trust in Brad to help you really get to the core of your character. What inspired that trust?
Christensen: He's extremely articulate in his vision, and his past films have all been very creative endeavors. Tonally, he's able to capture something that is really unique and really an extension of his creativity. So that instills a lot of faith in you as an actor.

Newton: He has his own personal style that's very unique. So what we wanted to do is honor that style in this catalog of movies that he's going to be making. I had to put my faith in someone, because some scenes were just so driven and emotional, there was a real abandonment and I got quite lost in the trauma of it all. I had to hope that Brad, and to some degree the other actors, were there to be the judge of where it was going and what needed to happen.

Christensen: And dependent on each other as well. I think that's sort of a theme in the film. How we rely on the people around us.

Is that sort of what you meant when you said it reminded you of a play?
Christensen: Yeah. When you're on stage, you're totally dependent on the other actor. But really for me it was about the containment of the story. When I read it, it really read like a play, and I thought we could approach it like a play. And that was really appealing to me.

What was it like working with John Leguizamo? Was he kind of the comic relief on set?

Newton: He's actually pretty serious. He's got incredible energy, John. He has all of these ideas and he'll sort of switch from one topic to another. But he was all about the material. He's got a slight obsessiveness, too. But then he might suddenly just break out into an amazing dance routine. And so would Jacob.

Christensen: Jacob is quite the dancer.

Newton: He is. And he sang at the end of the movie, didn't he? Didn't he sing 'Happy Birthday' to someone in the most beautiful voice -- was it to Brad?

Christensen: Oh yeah. I think it was to Brad.

With such a small group of actors, how did having a rookie in the mix affect the dynamic?
Newton: He did not feel like a rookie at all.

Hayden: No, he's a natural.

What was it like filming in Detroit? Had either of you filmed there before?
Christensen: No, it was my first time.

Newton: I loved it. Obviously, the city lent itself really well to the movie. Streets and building after building were empty, and there were old motor factories with machinery just left suspended. Buildings that have trees growing up out of them. It was beautiful and sort of tragic at the same time. It kind of has a ghost-like feel to it.

Christensen: Absolutely.

Newton: Humanity has left this place. So that was amazing for the film. On a personal level, the people of Detroit are just so tenacious. Hayden took us to this Italian restaurant where Brad had his first truffle, didn't he?

Christensen: That's right.

Who do you think this movie will appeal to, since it really defies genres?
Christensen: I think it will appeal to people who want to go to a movie and be stimulated.