Disappear Completely

Disappear Completely
Disappear Completely
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John Carpenter & Wes Craven’s Nightcrawler – Disappear completely!

Released today on Netflix, “Disappear Completely” is a deeply haunting piece of work, which reminds you of the epic nightmares of John Carpenter or Wes Craven. I guess if you are really into horror this review becomes superfluous for you and hits the spot.

The director Henaine’s first feature film reminded me of movies made by Craven and Carpenter, where men who think they know everything about the universe discover that some things in life are beyond their control as seen in films like “Serpent and the Rainbow” and “In the Mouth of Madness”. Also, when I watched this movie, it felt like something out of slow motion car crash. It was beautifully shot but there is not much hope given by Henaine. The protagonist believes that he can recover from his downward spiral. That’s unlikely to happen though.

This time around our doomed hero is Santiago (played by Harold Torres), an insensitive photographer who only cares about capturing the best image even at the expense of several ethical boundaries. He isn’t exactly hateful, but he often drifts across moral lines and it seems his personal, professional struggles are probably all his fault although he may not see that. When he learns that his girlfriend is pregnant with his child, rather than being kind about it; she tells him quite bluntly that she is bleeding again. Perhaps he’d be worried about what such a thing would do to his photography career? Before we learn more deprivation of senses story line we have her saying ‘I see what you don’t.’ This suggests how skewed his perception has always been up until now in comparison with what reality actually looks like.

It leads him straight into a house where there appears to be a body that has been eaten by rats while trying to capture an awful photo for magazine sales. An officer uses a flashlight to light up the scene before Santiago clicks away while slapping Say Cheese as a gory caption. Then, Santiago’s encounters with inexplicable events start to become more frequent and the sensation that he is cursed dawns on him. Eventually all his senses are gone because of this curse. Expressing the loss of smell or taste doesn’t seem all that cinematic but Henaine and co have a riot in act three where things start getting stranger, sound design takes over from there on; it should be considered for awards too. In essence, through sight and sound which is what film medium entails, they can make us feel what Santiago is going through both physically and mentally.

The cinematography by Glauco Bermudez starts off strong establishing a sharp visual language then destroyed as Santiago’s life falls apart. His increasing terror upon realizing that he will act out the title drives him to more questionable moves time after time. The script gets kind of unnecessary towards the end trying to explain some things about Santiago though not important for this story really. What if there was an improved version of this movie that was even much more surreal and audacious concerning its narrative choices?

The film works because Henaine and his team absolutely immerse us in Santiago’s quest. I believe the brilliant Torres is present in every scene, or nearly so, the locked POV being a superb choice for this trip too intensifying its drama. This is like one of those tales of Carpenter, Craven where a guy takes a well-earned journey to Hell. And we are going with him.

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