SLEEP DEPRAVED [2012] : a short film by Gabriele Toresani

Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , , ,

ITALY 2012


REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic



Dario has been awake for 127 days. There is a presence in his house that haunts him: his baby boy. As his problems at work and in every other part of his life seem to grow and get out of control, his grasp on what’s real seems to fade, hallucinations and reality start to mix and blend. Desperate, Dario sees only one way out: he has to kill his son.


I can personally relate to any film which depicts insomnia, as it’s a condition I suffer from periodically, though unlike poor Dario in Sleep Depraved [what a great title!], the most nights I’ve gone totally without any sleep whatsoever for is three. Dario hasn’t slept for 127 days, which I initially thought must be some kind of movie record until I remembered that The Machinist hadn’t slept for a whole year when that film began. One of the most fustrating things for parents must definately be when they are kept awake by their new child, though not many babies seem to cry as much as the unseen sprog of Dario and Mariolo in Sleep Depraved. I’m sure every parent at one point must feel like getting up and strangling their screaming child, though of course such feelings normally go away within a minute or so. Out of this most disturbing of emotions comes Sleep Depraved, a very impressive piece of  work from Gabriele Toresani which packs a hell of a lot into its 14 minutes. There’s enough material here to be expanded into a feature film if Toresani both gets the chance and feels so inclined.

The first shot is of a baby monitor, and the low musical note playing in the background adds to the realisation that the noises a baby makes can be totally wonderful but also, sometimes, a little sinister and when you think about it rather odd. A close-up of Mario’s tormented face is followed by another shot of his visage this time happy and taking a photograph in what is obviously in the past, a past where Mariolo possibly gave birth on a hill outside. I say possibly, because, while we are given a convincing snapshot of a life falling apart, a life where Dario’s lack of sleep is hampering his performance and mood everywhere, we’re also being asked to work out if everything we are seeing as actually happening. It seems like Dario is egged on to kill his baby by friends in a bar, and even a pretty chemist, but is this really happening? One scene with very disturbing implications has Mariolo, whom Dario seems to have trouble making love to, appear before him with fake [or maybe not] blood on her tummy. This is one of those films where you have to decide for yourself what is real and what isn’t. I won’t divulge my theory as I don’t want to give quite everything away, but the fact that I’ll be thinking about Sleep Depraved for a while is a sure sign of its quality.

In several moments, Toresani, and his editor Marco Circosta Garcia show an almost Nicolas Roeg-style knack for linking together quick shots from different times while maintaining a sombre, appropriately downbeat mood. The subtle musical backing by Simon Olivari and Claudio Smussi works very well too, especially during some quiet machinal noises which sound like the Morlock machines in The Time Machine. The performances all come up trumps, though Claudio Abbiati perhaps doesn’t quite look as if he’s been constantly awake for as long as he has. Nonetheless, he helps make his character relatable despite committing [or does he?] certainly one terrible act on-screen. Sleep Depraved is a compelling, challenging and thought-provoking exercise that marks Toresani as an exciting new talent. It will stay with me for some time.





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About Dr Lenera 1981 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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