There is a growing sense of tension in the lighthouse’s atmosphere throughout Kristoffer Nyholm’s 2018 thriller. The entire story builds to a confusing climax that leaves many viewers perplexed. “The Vanishing,” which stars Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan, and Connor Swindells as the main keepers of the light, tackles several subjects including the effects of trauma, remorse, and how greed can drastically change a person’s conduct.
The film is a monument to the physical and mental fortitude of people. It demonstrates the depths to which the human psyche may sink in the face of physical abuse and fatal trauma. “The Vanishing” shows what happens when greed overcomes reason and becomes an obsession.
In such cases, anything can go wrong with a person’s mental health. This raises a significant question for the climax: what transpired with Thomas, James, and Donald?
The Vanishing Triangle Ending Explained
Three lighthouse keepers, Thomas, James, and Donald, vanish from the island without a trace. “The Vanishing” solves their riddle. It describes how a mysterious wooden chest and a guy who is probably dead wash up on the shore, turning their lives upside down.
They stray from their main responsibilities as a result of this incident, and their greed leads them to act badly. The keepers must decide whether to open the chest to reveal something precious or to keep it shut by protocol.
Even though Thomas begs the others not to open the chest in the middle of the night, we witness him opening it covertly. As soon as he finds the buried gold, he packs the trunk exactly as it was. The next day, Donald and James are so curious that they finally crack up the chest themselves.
They devise a scheme to divide the riches among themselves without being discovered. When three guys arrive on the island in search of their cargo and the missing man, the plot goes awry. The movie’s tension rises dramatically after the lighthouse keepers deal with the crew members who arrive on the island in search of their missing comrade and the chest full of gold he carries.
There are many items in the wooden trunk, but the gold bars catch everyone’s eye right away. This revelation, which catalyzes all of the keepers’ disputes and problems, quickly transforms the film into a psychological thriller. When the keepers pursue someone who is hiding outdoors after killing Locke and Boor, James also kills him.
He instantly recognizes the boy’s face as being that of his son, and his sanity takes a dark turn at that point. He begins blaming Donald for their predicament, claiming that nothing else would have happened if Donald had not slain the man who had landed on the strand. Reminding him that Donald acted in self-defence is Thomas’ attempt to make him see sense.
James has outlived his capacity for comprehension of logic and reason. As his guilt at killing men consumes him, he withdraws himself into a tiny church on the island. The keepers’ level of tension and mistrust keeps rising. However, when James shows up and seems like himself again, things start to improve.
The scene’s tone lightens when they even begin singing a tune they sang at the beginning. Thomas and Donald exhale in relief at this, hoping that this fiasco will end well. James, however, had different plans since he wanted the brutality to stop because of his insane thoughts. But the three men’s mistrust of one another sends them in the wrong direction.
Why Did Thomas Kill James?
James imprisons Thomas in a room toward the end and begins strangling Donald. Thomas repeatedly knocks on the door and begs to be allowed outside, but to no avail. Thomas kills James and then bursts through the door, seeing Donald’s lifeless body next to James.
In the end, Thomas and James take a boat out to sea carrying Donald’s lifeless body along with their priceless riches. James willingly jumps into the water and drowns himself as Thomas tosses the body overboard. As the film ends, Thomas is leaving the lighthouse he agreed to watch in a boat with the gold.
James chose to surrender his life, and Thomas accepted that choice rather than killing him. James’s mental state devolves into madness following the six weeks of violence and misery they have endured. He decides to end his life since he can no longer bear it.
It makes sense because the unassuming guardians of the light did not agree to endure six weeks of suspicion, murder, and anxiety. Their deeds entangled them in a web from which they were unable to escape. James killed individuals and gave in to his greed, which left him tormented.
The weight of the sins he committed was too much for him to bear. He believed that murdering Donald would make him feel better, but in reality, it made him worse and more inclined to commit suicide. James was a devoted husband and father who would do everything for his family.
At the opening of the film, we watch him make plans for his family while he gives his wife some cash and bids his kids farewell. He was a hardworking, straightforward man who supported his family. James decides to take his own life after the events on the island because he is unable to live after being tortured by secrets and falsehoods.
His family was on his mind, and he was unsure of how to approach them following his actions. When James can’t handle things alone, he turns to Thomas for assistance. Thomas is reassured by him that it’s alright and that’s what he wants. Thomas grants James’s last request and holds his head below since he recognizes his suffering and anguish.
Where Is The Gold Now?
Numerous inquiries concerning the contents of the wooden chest surface as it washes up on the coast. Given that the man in possession of the chest was prepared to kill Donald over it, the keepers conclude that it must be something valuable.
As Donald fights the man off and uses a rock to kill him in self-defence, Thomas and James pull the chest up the cliff. The gruesome sequence of killings and violence begins with this. The compelling thriller revolved around a few gold bars that made every man on the island feel avaricious.
Though it seems safer to follow convention and call the authorities on the mainland, the keepers are curious and after giving the idea some thought, they open the wooden chest. The valuable gold bars are hidden in the bottom of the box, along with a few other strange objects like shoes and clothing.
The keepers believe they have found the answer to all of their issues and are thrilled to find the valuable metal. James would be able to care for his family as a result, and Donald and Thomas would be able to live carefree lives in the future.
Thomas devises a scheme that would allow the three of them to avoid detection while keeping a portion of the gold. However, few foresaw what would come next. To the extent that it creates a rift between them, the keepers battle tooth and nail to hold onto the gold.
Eventually, the severe trauma, growing paranoia, and their collapsing mental states proved to be too much for them, and Donald and James passed away. On the boat, we observe Thomas by himself. Although the gold bars are not explicitly seen in the scenario, no one is aware of what Thomas did with them. However, Thomas most definitely sailed off with all of the riches that they discovered in the chest.
The opening moments of the film allude to Thomas’s isolation and the fact that he has no family to support. This also allowed him to staff the lighthouse for 25 years. James offers Donald his sorrow after learning of Thomas’ wife’s passing and even asks Thomas what transpired. Thomas dodges the question, which leaves the audience perplexed because he is a secretive person.
Additionally, we witness Thomas reciting Jessica, Freya, and Cathy’s names as he lights three candles in the chapel. Thomas’s wife and twin children passed away a few years ago, it is later learned. James is shown comforting him, telling him that since his wife was unwell, there was nothing he could have done to keep her safe.
Their children’s deaths are also addressed in passing, but no specific response or explanation is provided. Near the end, Thomas sits in the chapel and sobs, pleading with God for forgiveness because he believes he allowed his wife to die.