Missing person tropes were a familiar staple of the mystery genre long before cinema, but movies have without a doubt become the ultimate medium for the thrill of a character suddenly going MIA. We love vanishing acts in all their different forms: they appeal to the amateur sleuth in us, intrigue our most childlike sense of wonder, and sometimes just freak us out — especially when they seem to defy reason. Cinema, much like sleight of hand, is all about spectacle, and creating the spectacle of disappearance requires certain elements of suspense, surprise, and above all else, a feeling of uneasiness. We’ve made a list of ten of the most classic, unsettling vanishing acts on film that are sure to keep you guessing.
The classic cinematic vanishing act, Antonioni’s haunting and visually captivating masterpiece revolves around the disappearance of a bourgeois woman from a Mediterranean island while on a yachting trip. In his characteristically atmospheric style, Antonioni leaves the mystery unexplained, delving instead into the existential and romantic anxiety opened up between the vanished woman’s best friend and her lover.