It's tempting to call The Disappeared a mixture of disaster porn melodrama The Perfect Storm and survival-horror one-note Open Water. Doing so would give you a sense of the unflinching way the film follows six fishermen adrift in the North Atlantic after their vessel sinks. But it would also be a disservice to the powerful and raw movie director Shandi Mitchell has made with her feature debut.
As the film begins, the six characters stranded between two lifeboats seem like obvious choices for those you'd most want to be lost at sea with. These are seafaring, saltwater-hardened men who are deceivingly practical in the face of disaster. The way they go about tying knots and bailing out water with casual detachment, one gets the sense that "lost at sea" is just a nuisance of the trade.
Time wears on, though. And it becomes clear how each man is clinging ever more desperately to their customs to avoid staring down the insanity of the indifferent ocean all around them.
An early scene where the men wildly yell and howl and scream at the world emphasizes the hopelessness they find themselves engulfed within.
Director of photography Christopher Porter embodies that environment well—filling the screen with the unending expanse of the sea. Its changing colours illustrating the passage of each day, but also trapping the men and their two yellow boats in a haunting canvas of greys and blues and blacks.
In its own way, The Disappeared is a film about purgatory. These weathered men who are stuck between life and death. With neither God, nor fate, or any other force to look out for them, all they can do is pick up their oars and keep rowing into the abyss.