Paul (John Leguizamo of NIGHT OWL, LAND OF THE DEAD) is a projectionist in a movie theater complex in Detroit. He's working when something weird happens. The lights flicker and when he goes outside everyone has vanished. Just their clothes are left behind. And all electricity is gone. Then there's Luke (Hayden Christensen), a news field reporter for a local news station. He pretty much just cares about himself, as we can see 72 hours later when he's hiding in a car and someone begs for his help and he doesn't give it. Another character is Rosemary, a woman who is vainly searching for her infant son. He has vanished along with all the others but thinks that the boy's father may have taken him somewhere.
The last character is young James, a twelve-year-old boy (Jacob Latimore) who has stayed within his mother's bar, keeping the generator going. She had gone off to the local church and didn't return. All four characters end up at this building and try to figure out what to do but it seems hopeless. It's the middle of the day but there is no daylight outside. And the generator is failing. Do they just accept their fates or try to make a run for it? You see, the shadows seem to be alive and they consume people. Each character has a theory. Paul thinks it has something to do with "Dark Matter" and that this happened before, such as the vanishing colony of Roanoke in American history. Rosemary's explanation is religious. Luke doesn't care--he simply wants to survive, though he ends up caring about the others.
On one hand this is sort of like a zombie movie, only without the zombies. In fact, it's more terrifying because the villain/threat is this unknown darkness. How do you fight shadows? Also, the beginning of the movie starts off almost exactly like the 80's movie NIGHT OF THE COMET. In that film a woman is in a movie projection booth when everyone disappears--and when she emerges sees that just their clothes are left behind. The very same thing happens with Leguizamo's character here, which leads me to believe this is an intentional nod to that movie.
VANISHING ON 7th STREET is a low-key, effective horror movie. If you enjoyed director Brad Anderson's THE MACHINIST or SESSION 9, you'll love this.