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The Ending Of Vanishing On 7th Street Explained

Being afraid of the dark is one of our most primal fears, and it's one that Brad Anderson's 2010 horror thriller, "Vanishing on 7th Street," explores to deliciously creepy effect. On the night of a power outage, a group of ordinary people wake up to discover that everyone but themselves has vanished from the streets of Detroit. We meet a small group of survivors, including Paul (John Leguizamo), Luke (Hayden Christensen), Rosemary (Thandiwe Newton) and James (Jacob Latimore), who do their best to survive as they learn to their horror that they have every reason to be afraid of the dark: it's full of monsters.

The film becomes a race against time as the protagonists slowly realize that light is the only defense against the monsters in the shadows, but with power dwindling and the days growing shorter, their odds of survival also dwindle. Most monsters you can barricade yourselves against or run from, but darkness is inescapable.

A decidedly bleak outcome

By the film's end, the survivors' numbers have dwindled down to one: Rosemary is taken by the shadows who trick her by mimicking a crying baby, Paul succumbs to a vivid hallucination brought on by the darkness and a severe concussion and is consumed, and even Luke falls to the darkness, disappearing into it after trying to rescue James. James, looking for his missing mother at a church, is soon surrounded by the darkness, with only the glittering flames of candles holding the looming threat at bay. Awakening the next morning, James meets a young girl named Brianna (Taylor Groothuis) who has managed to survive thanks to a solar-powered flashlight in her possession.

The pair obtain a horse and leave the city, but not before James catches sight of the shadowy silhouettes of Paul, Rosemary, and Luke along a wall, having become part of the very force that destroyed them. As the youngsters leave the city, the sun quickly descends and the shadows grow larger, with several of them reaching for the pair as they ride out of Detroit, the light keeping the darkness at bay — for now.

An implacable, unstoppable enemy

"Vanishing on 7th Street" ends on what might seem to be a triumphant note: the two young survivors escaping the city and in possession of a source of seemingly unlimited light to keep them safe. But when Luke first meets James in the darkened bar his father owns, it's 11 a.m. and the sun is nowhere to be found. With the days getting shorter and sources of light becoming fewer and farther between, James is aware that the solar-powered flashlight will eventually die. The shadows looming behind the pair as they ride out of Detroit is a grim reminder that the darkness hasn't been defeated: it will follow them and eventually it will consume them.

"Vanishing on 7th Street's" ending is bleak, showing that for all their efforts to stave off the darkness stalking them, the characters will eventually succumb. As it consumes the world, there is no safe haven, no place where shadows cannot fall. It's an ominous, chilling note that makes this post-apocalyptic tale particularly terrifying.