The last movie I saw at Screamfest 2018 was Discarnate, and it ended the week on a high note of gory monster fun and afterlife mythology. Hopefully it can be the beginning of a Discarnate franchise in which the Discarnate comes back to plague other people who meddle in spiritual affairs.
Discarnate has a great opener. Dr. Andre Mason (Thomas Kretschmann) is hiding with his son Benny (Jake Vaughn), consoling him that there are no monsters. But there is! 10 years later, Dr. Mason discovers a tea that Ms. Sanchez (Nadine Velasquez) makes to help people commune with the afterlife. Mason gets a grand to turn the tea into a serum, but messing with reality unleashes the Discarnate, the being without flesh.
Writers Mario Miscione and Marcella Ochoa and director Mario Sorrenti do a good job introducing this dark fantasy in a mature, adult way. Mason is a man of science, Sanchez a woman of faith, and Mason assembles a team of professionals with their own baggage. Casey Blackburn (Josh Stewart) is there to be the skeptic checking up on Mason. Brothers Shane (Matt Munroe) and Travis (Chris Coy) share emotional memories, Shane deflecting more with humor. Violette Bex Taylor-Klaus believes in the research but becomes disillusioned with Mason.
They’ve even given a reasonable scientific explanation for how this would work. The idea is the tea/serum stimulates the pineal gland, which goes dormant in adulthood when we all become more rational. By reawakening the pineal glad they regain their childhood ability to commune with the afterlife. Since it’s a horror movie, the personal visions they experience prey on their emotions. The cast convey their heartbreaking desperation to connect with people or incidents from their past.
The discarnate (Olivier De Sagazan, Mick Ignis) is a cool creature with creepy movements. Mason conducts the experiment in a decrepit old house, which becomes a decrepit afterlife of nightmares. There are also a lot of needle injection shots, so if needles are your greatest fear then Discarnate will be an endurance test.
Lighting and sound have some technical issue but you can see and hear everything. More importantly, the story and performances are solid. Most of all, it looks like real on set scares that harken back to the glory days of horror.