The opening scenes of Aegri Somnia (translation: a sick man’s delusional dreams; hallucinations) are shot in black and white, and it is a visual masterpiece. It’s night and the camerawork takes advantage of shapes and shadows. Throughout Aegri Somnia, the viewer cannot glance away for a moment for fear of missing a visually intriguing, dramatic shot. Lenses, camera angles, and camera angles combine to provide scenes that mimic art photography. Even scenes in a night club are imbued with desolation.
When we first meet Edgar (Tyhr Trubiak), he is arriving home from work. He enters his Kramdenesque apartment, to be greeted by his wife Muriel (Mel Marginet), the shrew, who is watching the all-bad news channel. They argue; Muriel goes to take a bath. Edgar, wanting to apologize, speaks to her through the bathroom door and when she doesn’t respond, enters the bathroom. Switch to color — she’s committed suicide in the tub. An overhead shot presents the audience with a muted, nearly sepia scene, with a white bathtub filled with red at its center. Switching back to black and white, Aegri Somnia takes us to Muriel’s burial.
The audience views the world as Edgar sees it, and Edgar’s perceptions are unreliable. He hears whispering, and it’s not sweet nothings. Color is used sparingly. When a character is killed, it’s in color. There are brief flashes of something demonic — real or hallucination? — that are also in color.
At one point we see Edgar’s wife being exhumed by strange beings, which seem to have a plan for her. Edgar talks to voices coming from the television set. There is no line between fantasy and reality, wakefulness and dreaming. Aegri Somnia has much in common with Welles’ The Trial and Lynch’s Eraserhead and Twin Peaks. Some of it is the atmosphere created, some in the visual and sound techniques used.
Edgar is a loner; he is socially inept and lives his life in a state of fear. He’s not comfortable with people, and tells his friend Virgil (Warren Louis Wiltshire) “people are hell.” When he visits Virgil he talks about wanting to be alone, one of many contradictions and conflicts he exhibits. Virgil, ever the interesting host, launches a long, philosophical monologue about love, hate, heaven, hell, desire, lust, and solitude.
An attractive female coworker/neighbor (Nadine Pinette) shoehorns herself into his life, forcing him to go out clubbing. Once out, she humiliates him. Another coworker (Johnny Marlowe) ropes him into a poker game; Edgar does not know how to play poker and he has no money, but goes anyway. Edgar suffers a great deal of discomfort in social situations but finds himself forced into them.
There are bodies and blood in this independent film written and directed by James Rewucki; however this is not a slasher film. Rewucki knows that with the right camera angles anyone can look evil and anyplace can be hell. He’s produced a dark film featuring a world where everything is a threat and reality is a question.
Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream Aegri Somnia? Yes, it’s a visually impressive film; its rich images compensate for any flaws the viewer may find.