Director Johnny Kevorkian channels the spirit of Ken Loach into this Sixth Sense style chiller. After suffering a mental breakdown following the abduction of his younger brother, a teenage lad returns home. When he begins seeing and hearing the disappeared youngster he fears he is losing his mind all over again. But, is the pint-sized spirit the real ectoplasmic deal? Kevorkian keeps the atmosphere and ambiguity simmering over nicely, earning his genuinely nail-chewing ending.
An impressive feature debut for its director and writer Johnny Kevorkian (and co-writer Neil Murphy), The Disappeared is a welcome return to traditional ghost story chills.
Eschewing attention grabbing gore and frightwigs, Kevorkian puts his faith in solid characters and a slowburn escalation of dread.
He gets an impressive performance from Harry Treadaway as the haunted, guilt stricken Matthew, partying when his younger brother Tom (Palmer) wandered off to the park and never returned.
Part "is he barking or not" psychological drama, part whodunit, and part ghost story, The Disappeared anchors its horror movie trappings in a gritty, permanently overcast South London council block setting and the tenants orbiting the troubled teen.
His sorrowful, hair-trigger tempered dad (Wise) may know more about Tom's disappearance than he's letting on, and Matt forms a delicate relationship with an abused neighbour (Leeming, incongruously posh accent neatly explained away) while dodging a gang of hoodies more dangerous than any visitation he spots through a window or hears on tape.
Although rejecting recent Blighty fright films' grue and cruelty (The Cottage, Eden Lake), The Disappeared carries a fair share of darkness. Matt's best mate and the movie's most upbeat character (Felton, forever Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies) gets the smile knocked off his face when his little sis goes missing, and a disturbing denouement ventures into particularly grim territory.
Not everything glitters: a climactic revelation relies too heavily on coincidence and the closing twist is sign posted throughout.
But, with ambition to spare and a talent for shocks and surprises worthy of seasoned directors, Kevorkian has revived the spirits of those who thought the English ghost story was dead.