Guilt is its own phantom. It plagues us like a poltergeist, haunting our hours with unwanted memories of a painful, unrepentant past. It eats at our soul, making us question the very meaning of life, and when it finally passes, it rests in the cracks of our own emotional estate, hoping to reappear when we’re weakest, or most vulnerable. For young Matthew Ryan, the disappearance of his little brother Tom has brought on numerous conflicting consequences. It has caused a rift with his father, the man blaming his son for partying instead of carefully watching the boy. It has forced a stint in a mental institution, Matthew’s mind awash in a sea of unexplained questions and suffering. And oddly enough, it appears to have attracted real ghosts - visions begging our beleaguered adolescent to find out what really happened on that fateful night.
Thus begins Johnny Kevorkian’s feature film debut The Disappeared. Using the cold, sterile backdrop of some nameless council flats to tell a solid story of loss, conspiracy, and perhaps murder, the first 50 minutes of this movie deserve some kind of award for atmosphere. From the bleak, washed out color scheme to the slow, methodic unveiling of clues, our filmmaker follows a pattern that gives the supposed supernatural elements a good place to settle in and prosper. Since Matthew is on medication, dedicated to getting better and rediscovering a life amongst his family and friends, his “visions” could be nothing more than pharmaceutical hallucinations. Indeed, Kevorkian closely guards his storytelling secrets, turning events into a whodunit so gradually we barely realize there’s an investigation going on.