Though they're stalking the red carpet for Toronto's Midnight Madness program with the creepy Vanishing on 7th Street, Thandie Newton and Hayden Christensen both have happy memories of Toronto. For Newton, its flashing back to 2004, when a scrappy little indie she was in—called Crash—began careening toward Oscar glory:
"Crash was such a whirlwind, but Toronto is where we realized that it was catching on and there was kind of a bushfire coming. So it was a very exciting time. I think it was probably the first time I'd been to the festival. And it's still my favorite, actually, of all the film festivals I've been to."
Christensen also has a strong affinity for Toronto. "I grew up here, so this is home. I don't get to spend an awful lot of time here, but I feel like I'm a true Torontonian at heart, so it's nice that we have such a great festival here. The city really comes alive for it."
Alive is good. Which brings us to the two stars' film, Vanishing on 7th Street, where remaining among the living is a tricky business. A creepy low-budget horror film from director Brad Anderson, Vanishing is a spooky end-times scenario where nearly everyone has disappeared, shadows move with a life of their own and darkness comes on ready to kill.
As Newton explains, shooting fast, cheap and on digital enhanced the mood of the film: "Funny enough, we were shooting in the dark a lot. And Brad wanted to use available light as much as possible. So the only things that were illuminating us were the lights that we had on us. So there was a sense you could really use your imagination to increase that tension."
As Christensen says, "I enjoy a good scare. But [Vanishing on 7th Street], for me, sort of goes beyond the genre and allows an audience to not be so overly manipulated and really kind of think about what they're watching. This is my type of horror film."
Newton agrees: "It's not a chills scare-fest. It's paranoia-making. I actually don't like going to scary movies. You know, the kinds where it's absolutely amped up to completely freak you out and gory, not dialog-driven or character-driven. Whereas this, it gets under your skin. It's much more creepy…literally."
That's because for much of the film Newton and Christensen are holed up in a bar, alongside John Leguizamo and Jacob Latimore, with the darkness creeping in.
How do Newton and Christensen maintain their energy for extensive freak-out scenes of emotional intensity and terror? Newton laughs: "Emergen-C packets." Christensen, linking motion and emotion, explains his method for madness: "Lots of pushups right before you shoot." Newton agrees: "I was always jogging up and down on the spot. It helped."
Well, the stars sure aren't vanishing in Toronto, check 'em out making the scene.