Disappear Completely Movie

Disappear Completely

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“Disappear Completely,” an extremely disturbing slice of nightmare fuel, debuts on Netflix today after a successful fest circuit run that included Fantastic Fest, and it almost feels like something John Carpenter or Wes Craven would have made if they were tackling “Nightcrawler.” I bet at this point horror fans out there have already skipped through reading this review to go and watch it. You are welcome.

Luis Javier Henaine’s work reminded me of classic films by the likes of Craven and Carpenter where flawed men who think they know everything about the world realize there are things well beyond their control as was seen in works like “Serpent and the Rainbow” and “In the Mouth of Madness.” As in those movies, ‘Disappear Completely’ has that slow motion car crash feel about it. It is beautifully shot; however Henaine does not allow for a lot of hope. His protagonist believes he can find his way out from under. We all know this is improbable.

This time our ill-fated hero is Santiago (Harold Torres), a photographer without sensitivity who always seeks for the best shot irrespective of how many moral boundaries he crosses doing so. He isn’t exactly despicable but he walks between right and wrong, it feels as though his struggles in life could actually be blamed on himself even if he fails to notice this fact.

He doesn’t respond with empathy when she tells him she’s pregnant. That might screw up his career. Even before the film gets into its tale about sensory numbness, she says to Santiago: “I see just opposites from what you see.” His perception has always seemed slightly skewed…until now.

As he continues looking for gory photos to sell to magazines, he enters a house where a body looks like rats have been eating them up. With flashlight lighted by one of the officers, Santiago takes a picture putting a horrible caption (“Say Cheese”) on top of it.’ After that creepy thing, inexplicable events start happening to Santiago. 

He is cursed and this curse results in his senses disappearing one by one. Henaine and his team have a lot of fun with the final act while conveying lack of smell or taste isn’t exactly cinematic. Here, things get even weirder than you would expect and the sound design becomes worthy of any award. By means of film, they are able to make it an audio and visual experience for us when we are inside Santiago’s deteriorating body.

It is grounded in strong cinematography from Glauco Bermudez right from the beginning which uses sharp visuals language as a foundation for the entire film before it falls apart around Santiago’s life. In realizing that he’s about to live up to the title of the movie, Santiago grows more anxious leading him into increasingly questionable decisions. 

The script goes to some unnecessary places in the final act that try to explain what’s happening to Santiago a bit, but that’s not really essential to this story. If anything else there is this better surreal and daring version of the film within these narrative choices.

In “Disappear Completely,” Henaine and his team completely immerse us in Santiago’s journey, which explains the film’s success. I find Torres to be exceptional in every scene, or at least almost every one of them; this locked POV is a truly great decision that makes this trek more tense though it sounds like an ill-fated trip of some Carpenter’s and Craven tales. Just as any of those Carpenter’s or Craven’s stories would have done, this too is about a guy going on a well-deserved vacation to Hell.

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