Review: Scott Powers’ Insomnium

You know, I actually have no idea how to start my review of Insomnium. It’s not that I don’t have notes jotted down, but I’m just not sure if I fully grasped what I was seeing on screen. Best way to sort it all out is to dive right in, so here we go! Truth Films presents a Paperpill Films Production with Insomnium, the new horror-drama from writer/director Scott Powers. The film follows two childhood friends, George and Phinneas, sharing an apartment in Los Angeles, when one of the dynamic duo tumbles down the stairs and receives extensive injuries to his arms and legs. George returns home from the hospital, but is confined to a wheelchair until he heals, so his girlfriend and her friend join the boys in a cozy night spent indoors as they drink in low-lighting while telling ghost stories. When one of them unveils a Ouija board, the night quickly goes downhill… and it doesn’t end there. Phinneas begins exhibiting strange behavior at night ever since they played with the toy, and now George is forced to uncover whether it’s a case of demonic possession or if his roommate has succumbed to something else. A multi-award winning film that packs an emotional punch while shrouding the viewer in darkness, Insomnium stars Brad Pennington, Clint Browning, Gena Shaw, Larena Reyna, Alexandra Lavrova, Brian Julian and Leon Shparaga. Here’s why you should consider watching this movie when it hits digital outlets like Amazon and iTunes on June 18th 2019.

Insomnium felt very akin to The Exorcist, even though it has no connection to the plot or pea-soup spitting little girls. I think it had something to do with the slow progression of events where the viewer wonders, “is everything really OK?” The suspense builds at a moderate pace and as the tension increases, the audience also asks, “how can George defend himself while in a wheelchair?” This added level of danger is a successful element included in the film’s subplot, and Scott Powers is a genius for thinking it up. This is all well and good, but at the same time, it’s hard to classify Insomnium as a hard horror film. To be honest, not a lot of possession/haunting instances takes place on screen that’ll rattle your nerves. It’s a dark drama more than anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible. I loved the dynamic between George and Phinneas, and how they and everyone around them were torn apart by the events unfolding in the apartment. And, more than anything, it was invigorating and welcomed to see a bromance that wasn’t filled with the use of “dude” and “pussy” every thirty seconds. George and Phinneas truly cared about each other, which is why it was so difficult to watch them suffer. I mean, what’s simpler to handle: a deeper rooted psychosis or the possibility that a demon is hiding in your body after playing with a Ouija board?

Insomnium is produced by Scott Powers, Larena Reyna, Mikel Mansour, Frank Dal Bello, Nathan Kimbrell and Murali Raju; and it features cinematography by Andrew J. Whittaker and editing by Powers, Reyna and Cami Starkman. Even though I’m a little iffy on the genre and intensity of the movie, I have to wholeheartedly say Insomnium is amazing from an acting and behind-the-scenes perspective. Brad Pennington and Clint Browning worked well together on screen, chemistry if you will, and they were cast to perfection. Honestly, I don’t think any other actors could have done such a great job bringing the characters to life. And at the same time, they played ying-and-yang, black-and-white personalities so well. Just expert acting from these two men, and the rest of the supporting cast. Also, the camera work is exquisite. Beautiful, clear, telling and good enough to show in movie theaters across The United States. It even had the slightest European flair that I absolutely loved. My favorite visual was probably the two men having drinks outside as the sun is beginning to set. Inspiring work behind the camera and eye ball pleasing appeal. Going back to the horror for a second, my favorite creep-tastic moment was when Phinneas is sitting in the shower and George discovers him. Very ominous in the, “what if that ever happened to me?” sort of way.

With a handful of equally creepy music and a ton of scenes where Brad Pennington had seemingly lost his shirt (sorry, I’m thirsty), Insomnium is a feature film that straddles the line between horror and drama, mystery and thrills. While it delivers on some of these elements, I found that it’s horror level was a little low. Still, it was impeccably produced and stars a cast of true professionals. Final Score: 7 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)