‘Disappear Completely’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: What Happens To Santiago And Marcela?


Disappear Completely is a slow-burn horror thriller that will give you the creeps without the usual horror tropes. The film is centered around photojournalist Santiago, who goes to extreme lengths to get back the senses taken away from him. The horror is not limited to space, folklore, or witchcraft; it gradually manifests in the body. When you are born with a healthy body, you do not notice or appreciate how your senses work, but the minute there is a mild disturbance, it causes panic. Santiago was absorbed in his work, and he was desperate to reach the pinnacle of his career, unaware that, in the most unexpected way, everything would be taken away from him.

Spoiler Alert

What resulted in Santiago’s condition?

Santiago did not just capture death and catastrophe; he always added his own touch to each frame, which made his images stand out. He hoped to have his photographs exhibited in galleries, but the rejection left him disheartened. Santiago did not give up; he continued to chase stories even though his personal life was falling apart. He rushed to take pictures of Senator Cortes’ corpse when it was discovered in his locked-up house. Santiago secretly entered when he learned that the examiner was already in the room. He sneakily walked into the room and saw the body lying on the floor. It was an unusual case. The policeman at the scene informed Santiago that the body had been lying there for days, and as a result, rats started to feed on the flesh. The senator was said to have lost his mind recently and had fired everyone who worked for him. Santiago and the policeman heard a strange noise, but it turned out to be more rats. All of a sudden, the corpse moved, and the senator begged to be killed. The man, who was assumed to have been lying dead in his house for days, turned out to be alive. It was all quite peculiar, especially with the rats feeding on a person who was still alive.

Santiago left the scene after he got the shots he wanted. On his way back home, Santiago was attacked, and when he woke up, he realized that his cameras were missing. Santiago returned home and saw the wildest of dreams, and when he woke up, he found out that he had lost his sense of smell. He went to work as usual, and once again he was back to taking photographs of corpses. While the two police officers complained about the smell, the stench did not hit Santiago. He was alone when he was taking pictures of the corpse when, all of a sudden, he watched the body crawl at him rapidly. Santiago experienced a seizure, but the paramedics concluded that he was perfectly healthy.

The next morning, Santiago lost his sense of taste, and this time his girlfriend, Marcela, who worked as a nurse at a hospital, conducted a thorough checkup, but once again he was found to be absolutely alright. The doctor suspected that the loss of smell and taste could be the result of stress, but Santiago knew it was not a psychological issue. Marcela assumed that news of her pregnancy had affected him, and she trusted the doctor’s diagnosis. When he returned home, his dog, Zombie, attacked him after he tried to push his dog away from looking under the cabinet. He did not think much about it then, but he would later find an important clue there. Santiago tried to find the reason behind his condition, and it dawned on him that maybe he had contracted some disease from the senator. Dressed as a doctor, Santiago went to the hospital, where the senator was admitted. He was shocked to discover that his symptoms matched those of Senator Raul Cortes Vargas. He was afraid that he too would suffer the same fate as the senator, who was now in a vegetative state.

The next morning, Santiago’s sense of touch started to get affected. In the most unexpected way, he discovered something that was crucial to understanding his condition. He found a strange witchcraft item under his kitchen cabinet, and he later learned that he was cursed by someone, and everything he was experiencing was because of it. 

Did the sacrifice save Santiago?

After Santiago became a little certain about the witchcraft theory, he met Leonor Romero. He presented the item that he found in his kitchen. Leonor asked him to cut it open, and Santiago was surprised to find a note in it. The note written with blood was addressed to Santiago, stating that his life would be in darkness. Leonor concluded that Santiago messed with someone he shouldn’t have, and that was why he was in danger. The curse was so severe that Leonor did not think she was capable enough to cleanse him of it. She knew of someone who could save him, but for that, Santiago needed to arrange a hundred thousand pesos. Santiago was hesitant at first, but when he realized he had lost the sense of touch as well, he started to believe that the ritual was his only way out.

Santiago sold his camera and accessories and managed to arrange the money. He also drugged Zombie because, for him to survive, he needed to sacrifice another living creature. Leonor took Santiago along to the remote village where the man lived. By now, the ritual had begun, and Santiago had started to hallucinate. He sacrificed Zombie, and he was bathed in his blood. He perhaps thought that killing his beloved dog was the ultimate sacrifice he could make. The next morning, Santiago felt relieved, thinking that it was all over, but after returning home, he realized that the ritual did not work. His sense of hearing was affected, and he desperately knocked on Leonor’s door, hoping to find answers. When he met Leonor, he was horrified to find out that the man who tried to cleanse him died as soon as Santiago left the village. She believed no one could save Santiago, and it was best if he accepted his fate and spent the last few days of his life with his loved ones.

Who was behind the curse?

Santiago was certain that it was only after taking the senator’s photographs that he started to lose his senses. He went back to the photographs he had taken to find clues, and he was surprised to notice a shadowy presence. He went to the senator’s house again to gather more evidence, and he was petrified to find a similar-looking witchcraft item at the senator’s place. This suggested that someone had cursed the senator, and Santiago had to find someone who had the motive to harm the senator. He figured out that politician Elena Castellanos could have been responsible because she was the one who benefited the most from the senator’s condition. But why was Santiago targeted? Well, he had taken the picture of the shadowy figure, which could be used against Elena, and it also endangered the secretive nature of the occult. Upon searching the internet, Santiago found several articles that talked about how Castellanos used witchcraft to carve her path. Santiago managed to find the anonymous source that confirmed Castellanos’ involvement in witchcraft and the occult. The man worked as a driver for Castellanos, and when Santiago showed the picture of the shadowy figure, he warned the photojournalist that he was messing with the devil. Santiago was already deep in the mess, and he needed to find the person responsible for his condition. The source provided him with the address of the man who was said to live in a no man’s land. 

What choice did Santiago make?

The black magic practitioner lived in a remote section of the woods. Santiago entered his house and saw the many pictures pinned on the wall. All of them were victims of black magic. Santiago found his camera and was also horrified to see his photo stuck to a voodoo doll, indicating that Leonor had been right all along. He saw the man with long hair in a satanic mask performing some rituals out in the woods. Santiago briefly lost his consciousness, and when he woke up, the strange man was in the room. Santiago begged the man to take back the curse, and at the end of Disappear Completely, the man agreed to do so, but on one condition. Santiago could only have his life back if he agreed to sacrifice the embryo that Marcela was carrying. The man offered Santiago a potion the function of which was not explained. It would either help Santiago kill Marcela and get the embryo, or the potion would only target the embryo. Santiago had to choose between himself and his unborn child, and it was only through the sacrifice of his own blood that the curse could be reversed. Santiago went home and poured the potion into the tea he made. His condition had worsened, and he could barely move at that point. He was gradually losing his sight. Marcela was glad to see Santiago home, but she had yet to find out what was going on.

The final and most crucial scene of Disappear Completely is without any audio to emphasize Santiago’s hearing loss. Marcela was extremely emotional, and perhaps she blamed herself for Santiago’s condition. Maybe at that moment she was ready to opt for an abortion, thinking the psychological burden of becoming a father was too much for Santiago to bear. It wasn’t revealed if Santiago told her the entire truth. But if that was the case, I assume that Marcela was ready to sacrifice the baby for his sake and she agreed to drink the tea. The other possibility was that she did not know what was going on, and she instinctively grabbed hold of the teacup. Marcela was happy when she found out that she was pregnant. They had been together for fourteen years, and she believed bringing a child into the world would help change their lives as well. She was hopeful that their strained relationship would improve after they had a baby to look after, but Santiago did not agree with her. He never wanted a kid of his own, and he was completely against Marcela keeping the baby. In a strange way, the curse helped Santiago make the tough decision on behalf of Marcela.

During Disappear Completely‘s ending, Santiago prioritized Marcela’s life and happiness over his own existence, and he decided that the baby must survive even if it meant that he would disappear completely. He pushed away the teacup because he did not want to sacrifice the unborn child and Marcela anymore. The curse allowed Santiago to look beyond himself, and he finally made the decision to protect his family. Even if he had chosen himself, the damage that the decision would have caused might have been impossible to live with. Santiago’s dreams remained unfulfilled, and maybe in the end he saw hope in his unborn child.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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