Horror Club: Insomnium
Living in an apartment complex - when you really think about it - is a pretty crazy concept. On your side of the wall, you've got your own private life filled with secrets that only the walls of your apartment know. But that means so does your neighbor on the other side of the wall. And it's a concept that is explored in INSOMNIUM, a fresh video on demand film released this week both written and directed by Scott Powers. The film is a pretty quick watch clocking in at under an hour and a half, but it's got this pretty awesome blend of mystery, suspense, and horror that will capture you within the first ten minutes and keep you just outside of the truth until the final minutes. It's a relatively simple movie, with nothing really over the top, no reliance on jumpscares to set the mood, and no gore to freak you out with. Instead, Insomnium focuses on the uneasiness it provides, the suspense it's driven by, and the payoff when it all comes together at the end. If this sounds like it's your thing, you're not going to want to pass up the opportunity to check out this film because it more than delivers on all of these fronts and it makes for a pretty fun watch, there's no doubt about that.
Insomnium follows two best friends from high school who share an apartment together: George (played by Brad Pennington) and Phin (played by Clint Browning). George recently sustained some injuries leaving him relatively immobile, so his girlfriend Kim and his buddy Phin are helping him with his day-to-day life while he recovers. After a Ouija board session with the group goes south relatively quickly and George's girlfriend makes some questionable decisions regarding their relationship, George and Phin are left battling the world on their own as they also battle this bizarre behavior that's suddenly been plaguing Phin: he's subtly acting out, seemingly sleepwalking, reciting Russian dialogue, and doing some weird actions with his hands that - at first - don't make any real sense. While George questions if this is all the result of Phin's serious marijuana habit, the film subtly suggests it's something much bigger than just weed, and much darker than they could have imagined. After overhearing a neighbor yelling at their landlord Mr. Romanovsky (Leon Shparaga) and finally getting a chance to speak with her about it, the truth slowly comes to light that maybe the guys don't know their landlord - the old Russian man who lives upstairs - as well as they thought they did, and that his secrets lie within the walls of his own apartment. Secrets that may shed light on the trouble plaguing the guys downstairs.
One of the best elements to this film is the guys themselves: George and Phin. Their relationship as long term best friends is clear and undeniable; they've definitely seen some shit together. It's one of the most authentic feeling and admirable duos we've seen in a horror flick in a while, as these two definitely make you appreciate their unbreakable bromance love with each other. It's this authentic relationship that helps bring this story to the next level as Phin begins experiencing his weird paranormal phenomena, and George does his best to put the puzzle pieces together to figure out what the hell is going on with his best friend. After George's unfaithful girlfriend gets out of the picture, it's essentially up to George to work out the mystery behind what's causing all of the weird behavior from Phin. And it is this journey that is a pretty suspenseful, mysterious and intriguing adventure into the dark truths held within the walls of their apartment complex. As far as both the story and the cinematography go, I definitely don't hate either; while the film may feel slow paced at points, by the end of the film, you'll understand why there are certain dialogue pieces and cut aways that may feel out of place, but rightfully have a spot in the film. The suspense and mystery elements written into the movie work pretty flawlessly, and do a pretty badass job leaving the viewer unsettled and wondering: motivation to keep us intrigued and wanting to continue watching. As the dark truth about Mr. Romanovsky comes to light, the movie definitely takes its horror turn as a unique take on the possession genre enters the film, adding another twist to Insomnium. It's a film that might feel like it's all over the place, but all in one place at the same time (to truly understand what I mean by that, I think you'll need to watch the film - but I mean it in the best way possible). While the acting from the rest of the cast is great and does its job, it's the duo of George and Phin that truly steal the spotlight from everyone else with their frat-bro-like friendship. If Insomnium didn't include the strong bond between these two guys and present it in the way it did, Insomnium would have still been good but not as good as it turned out to be in the end! In an attempt to keep this as spoiler free as possible, about the ending and the plot twist Insomnium delivers: it's pretty awesome, pretty unexpected, and a worthy payoff - but you gotta see the film to know what it's all about!
While the movie may not have created something insanely unique or explored vast new boundaries, it does more than a satisfactory job entertaining and engaging the audience in the mystery behind both Phin's sleepless nights and Mr. Romanovsky's secret upstairs. I don't think this is a film that will satisfy everyone, to be honest - but I think it's worth your time to find out. Hardcore horror fans might find themselves slightly disappointed because it's honestly not an in-your-face horror story, but if you're into the more subtle, more suspenseful and even more "realistic" types of films, Insomnium will be worth your hard earned money for a rental. I thought it was creative and fun, so I've gotta recommend you give it a chance this weekend as your Saturday Night Feature. Just don't expect to be jumping out of your seat, and maybe keep an extra close eye on your neighbor.