Sunday, June 05, 2016

Living in a Dream with Travis Milloy's Somnio: A Film Review

*an online screener of this film was provided by producer Laurie Sheldon.

Director/writer: Travis Milloy.

Cast: Christopher Soren Kelly and Cassandra Clark.

The Latin word Somnio can be defined as looking into a dream. And, much of Travis Milloy's (Pandorum) first feature, Somnio, is somewhat like that of a daydream, but more of a nightmare. One protagonist is forced to relive a sequence of events, over and over again. Smallish in nature, this film is also a bit of mystery. Is the central character, Frank (Christopher Soren Kelly), guilty of governmental transgressions? Or, has he been wrongly imprisoned? Milloy's script will keep you guessing until the end as themes of surveillance and the over-reliance on tech' weave their way into the narrative. Somnio is a decent indie entry into the science fiction and mystery genres.

There are a number of differences between indie titles and major productions. Major Hollywood productions often offer few surprises as they do their best to draw in wide audiences. Therefore, creativity and spontaneity are generally sidelined. Quality indie features bring more to the screen, via their stories. While production, including settings are minimized, one never knows what they find in an indie feature. And, Milloy's Somnio does have a few cards up its sleeve. While characters are reduced to two primaries and a talking camera, the complex plot will keep viewers watching. Settings, characters and shooting styles have been simplified in Somnio, but it is the story that will draw film fans in.

And, the story involves one of confinement. The governmental rebel Frank has been secured below ground. Appearing innocent initially, Frank may or may not be working for the resistance, a mysterious group, who are fighting intrusive government surveillance. Frank's only companion, in prison, is an LOS - a Life Support Operator. It has complex artificial intelligence. But, it keeps Frank locked in an austere room, until he can be "processed." The processing never comes, with Frank forced to find a way out, on his own.

Somnio also offers elements of a mystery. Frank's character is developed over time. At first, he appears as an ordinary citizen, going about his routines. Over time, it becomes apparent that the protagonist is indeed caught in a war between the Alliance and the ISN. But, whose side is he on? A technology, which utilizes Frank's memories, searches for his crimes. These memories also help Frank find the motivation to escape. As well, it becomes difficult to tell when the central character is within a memory or when he is in reality. Therefore, entire scenes have to be questioned as to their validity and the ending could be interpreted in at least two different ways. The film's inner mystery is one of the film's stronger elements.

Somnio is a film that has recently completed. This title also had an appearance at Sci-fi London (April 2016). And, the film is sure to run on the festival circuit through 2016. Somewhat flawed in the soundtrack, with the use of ADR, Somnio is still an intriguing sci-fi mystery. The film's central character is interesting, while action elements are almost forgotten. Somnio builds tension through what is unknown and this style will entertain many of those who are fans of these genres. Finally, the film will remind you that Big Brother is watching you!

Overall: 7.5 out of 10.

A fan page for the film is available here: Somnio on Facebook

The film's homepage: Somnio's Homepage

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