The Vanished (2018)

This nifty crime thriller starts with a creepy mystery and ends with an even creepier twist

Still Of Kim Sang Kyung and Kim Kang Woo in ‘The Vanished’ (2018)

Kim Sang Kyung and Kim Kang Woo in ‘The Vanished’ (2018)

Synopsis

The creepy beginning: After a late-night power outage at a medical facility, the security guard goes exploring through darkened hallways. What's this in the morgue? An open cabinet door? And no body. More exploring. A glimpse of a woman in flickering light ... a ghost? A hallucination?

Spooky.

The cops arrive, headed by detective Woo Jung-sik (Kim Sang-kyung), who is a bit of a character, haunted himself by the death of a fiancée several years ago. It turns out the missing cadaver is not just "any" body. It's Yoon Seol-hee (Kim Hee-ae), fabulously wealthy head of a pharmaceutical empire. They summon the younger trophy husband, Park Jin-han (Kim Kang-woo), since husbands are always obvious suspects. And why not. We see him leave the apartment of his pregnant girlfriend, Hye-jin (Han Ji-an), on his way to the police station.

Park has powerful connections that put pressure on detective Woo to let him go. Indeed, a key initial question in the interrogation is: why would the husband steal his wife's body? The first shocking theory is that the wife might actually be alive. Her firm may have developed a drug that could make her only appear dead until time she could escape to exact revenge on her faithless husband. Or maybe she really is dead, and the husband has his own reasons for stealing the body.

As the detectives chip away at Park's story, chilling things also happen. Flickering power. The darkened shadows of people lurking behind plate glass windows.

See It

The Vanishing has multiple meanings as the history of the two protagonists, detective and suspicious husband, are revealed. You are led down twisty plot lines, filled with plausible-sounding explanations that later unravel. All you can do is watch carefully, hoping to catch a hint here and there of what the real truth may be. It all plays out in the atmosphere of dread and suspense created by those unexplained happenings on the periphery.

Kim Sang-kyung is fascinating to watch as the detective who is convinced, perhaps beyond all reason, that the husband is the culprit. Is he crazy with his own grief, or does he know something we don't? He finds ever-more-clever ways of delaying the husband's release, clinging to his investigation, inventing ways to test his theory.

Kim Kang-woo is likewise effective as the increasingly desperate widower, who is balancing trying to keep his wits as the detective begins to tighten the noose around his neck, and his terrified girlfriend keeps calling to say that someone is watching her. The wife, perhaps?

It won't all be clear until the final minutes. Certainly I didn't catch on until very late, when the plot turned upside down, and we finally learn what the real crime actually was.