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Sunday, October 21, 2018

TRAUMA -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

When it comes to horror movies, how extreme do you want to go?  With TRAUMA (2017, Artsploitation Films), Chilean writer-director Lucio A. Rojas (ZOMBIE DAWN, PERFIDY) answers that question for us in ways that will have some viewers gasping with perverse thrill and others scrambling to put as much distance between them and this movie as humanly possible.

Even the first few minutes had me feeling nasty and kind of disgusted with myself for even watching it.  The film opens with a scene of the most vile torture porn imaginable, easily earning its original NC-17 rating (and this is the unrated director's cut).

It will get, if not worse, then just as bad in different but equally horrific ways.  The first home invasion sequence, in which four young women vacationing in a secluded cabin find the world's sickest psycho (Daniel Antivilo as "Juan") and his son at their front door, almost makes I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE seem like a rom-com.

Other atrocities, including a tour of psycho dad's hellish chamber of horrors and its woefully unfortunate captives, take everything that was vile and repellant about TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and turn the dial to eleven.

And I'm saying this as someone who has been watching extreme horror movies for several decades.  This wallow in utter depravity and degradation is the kind of stuff that movie theater walkouts are made of.

Okay, there's that.  In addition to the almost invasive nature of TRAUMA's horrific images is something else that director Rojas is really good at, which is building suspense.  This is one of those movies that manages to keep us painfully on edge, not just during the torture scenes but in other ways as well.

The survivors of the initial attack must decide whether or not to make their way to Juan's secluded torture chamber in the woods to help a little girl who has been kidnapped by him.  With a near-useless young local cop as their only help, Andrea (Catalina Martin) and the others embark on a rescue attempt that will lead to prolonged, stomach-churning suspense.

Through it all, there's an underlying message about how violence and hatred are passed down from generation to generation, sickness breeds sickness, etc. which we see in flashbacks to Juan's boyhood.  The dead seriousness of the film adds to its effectiveness--there's no distancing humor or satire to make the horror more palatable.

Nor does it have any amusing technical deficiencies.  Rojas' direction is entirely effective, his script literate.  The cast, especially Catalina Martin and Daniel Antivilo, are fine.  Photography (including some sweeping aerial shots) and other technical elements are above-average.

The Blu-ray from Artsploitation Films is in 2.35:1 widescreen with 5.1 surround sound.  Spanish soundtrack with English subtitles.  A trailer is the sole extra.

Gorehounds who like to get as down, dirty, and just plain twisted as possible with their horror movies should definitely check out TRAUMA as soon as possible. Everyone else--you've been warned.  As for me, I'm a notorious "re-watcher", happily viewing my favorite films time and again over the years, but for this one, once is way more than enough.


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