Firstly thanks to Zobo and Chris over at the excellent The Unrated Cut for pointing me in the direction of this extreme piece of modern cinema. It‘s certainly not an easy ride, far from it, but it does everything it sets out to do with gravitas and effect, sure it left me breathless and feeling like I wanted to sit in a dark room with a large glass of something strong. That‘s a recommendation, I guess! First, you should know what you are letting yourself in for – Trauma resides in the same jet black corner of extreme cinema as A Serbian Film and Martyrs and both are mirrored here in the way that the film does not shy away from the horrors on show, nor does it give you chances to catch a breath before the next big terrifying set piece.
The film follows a quartet of young ladies, going out into the country for wine and laughs and instead being attacked in horrific ways that are very hard to watch, think Irreversible horror. The acts are made worse as the film has taken its time introducing us to the different characters of the girls and making us love them before it pulls the rug. Special mention to Macarena (hey!) Carrere and Dominga Bofill, although all four performances are spot on.
When the horror comes, it comes hard and heavy. The colours of the earlier scenes are drowned out and the whole film becomes as dark and grey as the subject matter, the atmosphere is astounding and it does not let up.
Bad things? Some of the early scenes ape 70‘s classics rather too much, House On The Edge Of The Park and I Spit On Your Grave are both here before director Lucio Rojas finds his own style and substance. Also there is a classic horror movie moment where freedom is RIGHT THERE but one of the girls decides they have to go back…To protect a young girl they met for literally a minute earlier in the film. This, ladies, is idiocy.
Good things? The excellent performances as mentioned, some ugly/beautiful cinematography, great bloody effects, superb claustrophobic sets and the way the flashbacks put you in the head and the life of the villain. There is something else I will discuss, but when I do the same thing with A Serbian Film, many people (who let‘s face it are never going to watch these films anyway, but think they KNOW them) switch off. Like they probably will the movie. I‘m talking now about the political undercurrent. The film, as nasty and as hideous as some scenes are, is also an excellent commentary on the political situation in Chile, how Pinochet and his regime ran things and how one generation‘s crimes are then reflected in the next. It‘s the classic question of would you kill a baby Hitler, knowing what he will become? Many such questions are thrown up, this is no dumb slasher.
Trauma is certainly not for everyone, but if you have a strong stomach, you‘ll find much to ‘enjoy‘ here, it‘s dark chilling and brilliant. Now I need to go lie down…