Movie Review: “VANish”

Maiara Walsh, Austin Abke, Bryan Bockbrader, Adam Guthrie, Danny Trejo
Bryan Bockbrader

Here’s a tip for those hoping to get reviews of their new indie film by cold-writing movie critics: make sure your movie has Danny Trejo or Tony Todd in it, preferably both. “VANish” has both, and here we are.

“VANish” hits video and on demand this week. Writer and director Bryan Bockbrader tells us that he shot the film in 13 days, which brings to mind the story of how Robert Rodriguez shot “El Mariachi” on a $7,000 budget. The comparison is an apt one, as “VANish” is a warped wet dream of chatty Tarantino wise asses with “From Dusk Till Dawn” levels of bloodshed, and the entire movie takes place inside of a van, hence the capitalization in the title (and possibly a reference to the first half of “From Dusk Till Dawn,” which mostly takes place inside an RV). The majority of the acting fails the plot – and in some ways, the plot fails the plot – but it is a fun distraction, even if it pains us to think of a Tarantino/Rodriguez bloodfest like this as the two-decade nostalgia trip that it is.

College student Emma (Maiara Walsh) is kidnapped by Jack (Austin Abke) and Max (Bockbrader, the writer and director himself). They go to pick up their driver Shane (Adam Guthrie) with the intent of arranging a drop with Emma’s estranged father, drug lord Carlos (Trejo). Emma is not afraid of these guys in the slightest, and tells her dad as much in her kidnapping video. War veteran Jack, however, thinks he has everything under control, but as the job gets botched (on a number of levels), the three accomplices learn things about the other that cause mistrust to settle in. Oh, and did we mention that the damsel in distress is the daughter of a drug lord? (We did.) She is surely a delicate flower, and wouldn’t think of exploiting the circumstances at the first opportunity. Or the second. Or the third.

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