Even when Edgar was married he still kept himself isolated from the world but after his wife's suicide, the world seems to be closing in on Edgar. The shadows move on their own and the air is filled with the whispers of those around him and the creatures that haunt his nightmares. What is reality and what are dreams in the mind of Edgar?
"Who's the creature with a nasty mind?"
I wasn't sure what I was going to be getting into with "Aegri Somnia": the trailer is vague but filled with nightmarish visuals; the plot synopsis is like a cryptic message. This was another title I was very happy to receive from the folks at R-Squared film because of how vague everything is revolving around the movie but there was just enough there to drive the desire to see it. So I was able to into the movie a blank canvas, no expectations. Supposedly 'aegri somnia' is a Latin phrase meaning "a sick man's dream" which couldn't be a more fitting phrase for this movie as it feels like a sick dream when watching it.
The general idea of "Aegri Somnia" feels a little similar and there are some noticeable influences from movies like "Jacob's Ladder" but as both the writer and director James Rewucki is able to make it seem fresh and new. The story takes on surrealistic philosophies from having the idea of dreams and nightmares intruding in on our world, or rather Edgar's world, and reality. From the moment we see Edgar, we know this is a troubled man but after his wife’s suicide it seems that his troubles will be the thing that tears him apart from the inside out. Plagued with visions of creatures, seeing his dead wife, and no longer being able to separate what is real and what is not. "Aegri Somnia" becomes nothing short of a twisted journey through a deranged mind.
Now I'm not trying to hype the movie up but when I watched "Aegri Somnia" it reminded me of the first time I watched Andrey Iskanov's "Nails" or Shinya Tsukamoto's "Tetsuo the Iron Man". Not to say that "Aegri Somnia" is similar to those movies but rather it is so visually engaging and unique it is impossible to not be drawn into the movie. "Aegri Somnia" is shot in black and white with interjected moments of bright and harshly lit - colorful scenes, often red being the main color. Both styles are wonderfully executed in that the black and white makes you feel like not only Edgar, but you yourself are getting lost into the cold and empty void surrounding him. Adding to the creepy atmosphere by not knowing what is hiding the dark but knowing that there is something there by what you hear. The color is thrown in to send us through hyper-kinetic delusions that blur that line of dreams and reality, but because both worlds are so frightening it's hard to tell which world is worse.
"Aegri Somnia" is one of those carefully crafted movies that knows you can't just rely on one element to make a movie engrossing, especially those that are surreal and experimental. The visuals are a strong selling point to the movie but the audio in here was handled extremely well and was given the same attention as anything else. All parts of the audio: the soundtrack, the noise, the dialogue, the sound effects, etc. Everything is designed to work with the scenes to help deliver that all import mood and atmosphere and makes what your seeing seem all that more real. It isn't just quick-random bursts of loud noises to get a quick jump out of you. It penetrates you. It gets under your skin and in your head; drowning out the world around you and brings you into this one.
The story will be familiar to some and you'll most likely be able see the ending coming but it's all right, because it is all about how James tells the story of "Aegri Somnia" not the actual story. It is a stark-nightmarish movie that even manages to make both Edgar's nightmares and the world that he lives in seem so frightening. The movie goes beyond engaging and manages to get down and into your skin with its carefully and thoughtfully constructed visuals and sound design. Those who cannot enjoy movies that do things differently will not like this movie, those who can, will be greatly rewarded with one of the most unique indie films to come out this year. Simply put: see this movie.