Films and TV series about disappearances become so popular because they present a scenario more haunting than death. At the core of each story of a disappearance is the question of whether to “disappear” is to die, if it’s to be reborn, or if it means being stuck in the mercurial limbo of other peoples’ imaginations. For, the characters who are left behind grapple obsessively with the question of whether their vanished beloved is “out there, somewhere,” or entirely “gone.” Ghosts, aliens and giant lizards be damned: the most frightening presence is the lack of a presence. A person’s shift from a physical being to mere idea is the most terrifying, and most intriguing, of horror stories. Here are the best of them.
The Vanishing (dir. George Sluizer)
The Vanishing is one of the most existentially unsettling movies ever made: without giving away exactly what horrors befall a vacationing Dutch couple, I’ll say that as the husband searches for his missing wife, he has a recurring dream of two golden eggs floating in space. And while that sounds like a psychedelic rendering of a Willy Wonka motif, it becomes, for those who’ve seen this film, an image that’ll haunt every benedict, hard boiled, deviled and even toad in a hole henceforth.