Vanished Into the Night: Is the Netflix Movie Inspired By Real Events?

Image Credit: Sara Petraglia/Netflix

In Netflix’s Italian kidnap film, ‘Vanished Into the Night,’ an estranged married couple, Pietro and Elena, find their lives turned upside down when their two kids go missing. The narrative follows Elena, a psychiatrist who moves to Italy and falls in love with Pietro as the two plan on rebuilding his Masseria farmhouse into a hotel. However, a rift develops between the pair, and soon, they are amidst divorce proceedings while battling over the custody of their two children. One night, all hell breaks loose when the kids vanish mysteriously while lodging in Pietro’s farmhouse, leading to him embarking on a quest for recovery.

Originally titled ‘Svaniti Nella Notte,’ the Renato De Maria directorial offers an insight into the complexity of domestic relationships while framing that conversation in the middle of a high-stakes thriller where lives are put at risk. Pietro’s drive to save his two kids is often hamstrung by the darker elements haunting him from the past, forcing his hand and putting people close to him under threat. However, the character’s resolve and persistence are tested through the harrowing circumstances of his abducted children. As such, digging into the roots of ‘Vanished Into the Night’ prompts essential questions about its narrative and whether it is based on a true story.

Vanished Into the Night is a Remake of a Spanish Thriller

‘Vanished Into the Night’ is based on the Argentine-Spanish film ‘The 7th Floor,’ originally titled ‘Séptimo,’ which is driven by a fictional narrative penned by director Patxi Amezcua and Alejo Flah. Developed for Netflix by Luca Infascelli and Francesca Marciano, the central narrative of the remake and the 2013 film tackles similar issues of strained relationships, kidnappings, and a protagonist with a mysterious past that comes back to haunt him in unforeseen ways. Thus, the screenplay delves into its mystery roots by lacing it with rising suspense, a common theme across both films.

The 7th Floor

In ‘The 7th Floor,’ Sebastián Roberti, a lawyer in Buenos Aires, is in the middle of divorce proceedings and a custody battle for his children’s future. Paralleling the premise of the remake, Roberti’s life and strained relationship with his wife are further challenged when his kids go missing on the 7th floor of his apartment. Following their disappearance, the protagonist has to venture into a web of deceit and lies at the heart of the film’s narrative, forcing him to go to extremes to find the truth behind his abducted children. However, as he kicks down doors, his relationship with his estranged wife is challenged by the entire ordeal, harkening back to Pietro’s situation in ‘Vanished Into the Night.’

Vanished Into the Night Delves Into the Criminal Underbelly

Director Renato De Maria divulged that the film serves as a completion of his Netflix trilogy of films, ‘The Ruthless,’ ‘Robbing Mussolini,‘ and ‘Vanished Into the Night.’ Each narrative dives into various facets of the criminal world—the known and the unknown—connecting violence and mystery with a social story, adding layers to the thriller setup. In the case of ‘Svaniti Nella Notte,’ the abduction storyline, which acts as the crux of the narrative, is a lens for the other aspects explored within the screenplay. Pietro’s character and his fiber are questioned as the story progresses, seeding doubts in his efforts and his overall makeup as a person.

Image Credit: Sara Petraglia/Netflix

While the film depicts a fictional abduction, the story of a parent hunting down their children’s kidnappers isn’t entirely relegated to make-believe. In 2014, Miriam Elizabeth Rodríguez Martínez, a Mexican human rights activist, discovered the remains of her daughter, Karen Alejandra Salinas Rodríguez, after she was kidnapped in 2012. Miriam took matters into her own hands by trailing her daughter’s killers by herself, managing to capture at least 10 of them. Sadly, a few of the men who were arrested escaped prison soon after incarceration. In 2017, Miriam was gunned down 12 times by men right outside her home, and she passed away. Thus, while tragic in reality, her story brings an element of credence to the plot of ‘Vanished Into the Night.’ 

Parallels can also be drawn between the predicament of Bryan Mills in the action-thrillerTaken‘ and Pietro, as both protagonists take the long route to victory in the process of saving their trafficked children. They have to call upon a vast series of resources from a hidden past from which they have detached themselves. While they forge ahead with a resolute attitude, internal conflict raises its head as Pietro realizes the fallacies in his life and the flaws that have left him bereft of any options in the event of trouble following him even after he has forgone his sins from another life. This becomes both an aid and a curse in his rescue operation, ultimately forming the basis of his crisis in the mystery presented in ‘Vanished Into the Night.’

Read more: Where Was Netflix’s Vanished Into the Night Filmed?