The Vanishing (2018) creates a vividly authentic portrayal of life at a remote lighthouse in 1900. Every detail seems real, including the lighthouse, the boats, clothing, instruments, jars in the pantry, speech and attitudes. But they squander this sense of authenticity with incessant jiggly-cam shots. These are not minor trembles in areas where one might expect difficulty using a tripod or some other rigid mounting system, like the spiral staircase leading to the lamp. In an early scene, a character suffers motion sickness. The audience can easily relate. Later, we meet a physically imposing character, played by an actor they might cast in a fight scene against Dave Bautista. We wonder why they couldn't get that guy to hold the camera, instead of apparently recruiting a skinny eleven-year-old on a gyroscopic board. The only time the jiggly shots don't disrupt the audience's willful suspension of disbelief is during a pivotal scene that is so dimly lit that it's impossible to tell what's going on.
Rigid mounting systems require a lot more time and effort to set up the equipment, level the camera, make certain the actors hit their marks, et cetera, which forces the filmmakers to plan each shot. Properly done, it results in a tighter production. TV seems to drag a bit, as if it might have benefited from the careful planning entailed in using rigid mounts.
Performances by Gerald Butler, Peter Mullan and the other are excellent. Aside from sloppy camerawork and too much action occurring off-camera, production values are excellent.
Solid performances and authentic setting spoiled by jiggly-cam shots